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Mastering Music

From Beer to Blueberries Claudia Around the World Lakes Cakes



+ Bright


A Brainerd Dispatch Publication.

+ Tomatoes:

Seed to Sauce

+ Kayaking the


By women. For women. About women.

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Summer ‘17 Contents Features

6 12

Kayaking The Mississippi Friends from Pine River-Backus are kayaking the Mississippi River in segments. This year’s journey begins in Missouri. By Denise Sundquist

Conductor Marlene Pauley A treat to watch in her flowing coat, this woman conducts for families at the Lakes Area Music Festival (LAMF). By Jenny Gunsbury


Mastering Music


Claudia Around the World

Inspired in part by LAMF, area students set their sights on a music career. By Mary Aalgaard


Claudia Allene has a major case of the travel bug. Read about her adventures-- and plan your own. By Jan Kurtz

On The Cover

Claire Gunsbury is one of three area students pursuing a career in music. Photo by Joey Halvorson

22 30 37

In This Issue editorial • 4

gardens • 18

child care • 34

by Meg Douglas

By Joanne Weaver

By Rebecca Flansburg

Goodbye and Good Luck the arts • 9

Commencement By Bonnie Rokke Tinnes

Tomatoes: Seed to Saucepan yard and garden • 20

The Backyard Greenhouse

in the minority • 10

By Joan Hasskamp

By Dana Hegarty

From Beer to Blueberries

Women At Work

outdoors • 22

food • 16

By Maureen Farnsworth

By Kathryn Sundquist


Lakes Cakes

Her Voice ISO • 28 By Rebecca Flansburg

Bright Beginnings

home parties • 46

Have Leggings Will Travel By Meg Douglas

health • 37

Pump On

By Carissa Andrews

pioneer profiles • 40

”Scrub Women’s Chorus” and The Bachelor Maids By Ann M. Nelson

finance • 42

Investing In Relationships By Carolyn Corbett



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from the editor

d n a e Goodby k c u L d Goo


is with mixed feelings that I write my last column as editor of Her Voice. Over the years the magazine has given me focus and the Dispatch a publication in which to take pride. But 14 years is enough. I’m eager to see what younger, creative minds can produce and while the magazine is poised to transition, at age 70, so am I! Leaving will be good for both of us. It was 14 years ago that Mary Panzer, then Dispatch head of advertising, asked if I’d be interested in heading up a new project at the paper, more specifically, a quarterly magazine for women. I jumped at the chance — never imagining a more perfect gig for my interests. While coordinating marketing efforts for a variety of nonprofits since 1986, I wrote freelance, developing some cred publishing a variety of articles in various publications. I held a strong belief in what women can accomplish, nurtured by parents and my education and a belief in the diversity of women’s talents and abilities. An area resident for over 20 years, I knew there was a treasure trove of stories about women to tell in the Brainerd lakes area and women to write them. As in any venture there’s a team to thank. I have to first credit my friend Joey Halvorson, our intrepid photographer, who from early on has spread her indomitable spirit over the whole enterprise, capturing the life and light of so many of our subjects, camera in hand, traveling throughout the community. Next, the writers, many who accepted assignments or equally valuable, came up with their own. Some have spread their writing wings, publishing books, blogs or plays. I say again, we wouldn’t have a magazine without their talent. And finally the Dispatch staff. Graphic designers have come and gone over the years, always making our glossy pages look good, but a special thanks to current designer Lisa Henry, whose graphic vision continues to move us forward. And finally a huge thanks to Dispatch management, all three publishers and advertising execs who offered their support but never interfered with the enterprise.

By women. For women. About women.


Pete Mohs EDITOR


Lisa Henry


Joey Halvorson COPY EDITOR

DeLynn Howard


(entertainment tab)

Original Her Voice staff in 2003 clockwise from top, Deb Gunderson, Mary Panzer, Nancy Vogt, Carla Staffon and Meg Douglas.

What’s next for me? Travel with family and friends, some writing, classes at the YMCA, time with grandkids, books from the library, yard and garden work in all seasons. A breast cancer survivor, I’m so grateful for my last nine healthy years and look forward to many more. The view from here has given me faith and an appreciation for what women can accomplish: women leading in politics, education, business and nonprofits, athletics, here and beyond. Women who overcome physical and emotional challenges, women who work from home and engage with their kids. My gratitude for all I’ve experienced -- wish me luck on the next chapter.

CONTACT US: Advertising:

(218) 855-5895 Comments/story ideas:

(218) 855-5821

Mail: ATTN: Her Voice Brainerd Dispatch, P.O. Box 974, Brainerd, MN 56401 A quarterly publication of the Brainerd Dispatch. Printed by Forum Communications.

Meg Douglas, Editor copyright© 2003

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Here with you

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MISSISSIPPI “Good books, good friends and a sleepy conscience: This is the ideal life.” - Mark Twain, “Life on the Mississippi.” Michelle Holden (left) and Jeanette Wolmutt are kayaking the Mississippi River in segments, starting at the Headwaters near Park Rapids.



good friends from Pine River-

Backus have been kayaking the Mississippi River from its beginning in Itasca State Park in segments each summer for the past seven years. Hot and exhausted, they reached Hannibal, Mo., the summer of 2015. Fingers crossed, they will pick up their trip at that location in June 2017 to continue their breathtaking journey. When they reach the Gulf of Mexico a few summers from now, they will have paddled approximately 2,350 memorable miles.

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Jeanette Wolmutt and Michelle Holden met in Backus in 1978 when Jeanette’s son attended the nursery school where Michelle worked. Jeanette’s family invited Michelle along on their family vacation and have been adventure seeking friends ever since. For over 35 years, they have shared interest in doing outdoor things including kayaking, biking, hiking, cross country skiing and snowshoeing. Jeanette, 63, has always had a passion for the outdoors which included working for the DNR for 32 years in the forestry department. She is currently retired and enjoys sharing the outdoors with her grandchildren. Michelle, 56, is a teacher at Pine River-Backus School District and has been working with children her entire career. Michelle has always been a part of outdoors growing up on a resort on Lake Ada, “I just love the north country.” Their kayaking adventures started nearly 20 years ago when they found a two person play kayak. Michelle said, “They didn’t have sit-on-top kayaks back then, it was more of a modified canoe. “Their first adventure unfolded kayaking the Pine River. With their first success-

ful voyage behind them, Jeanette joined the Kayak Club in Brainerd and they both continued to learn more about the sport. Eventually, they each purchased a 17-foot Sea Kayak. About 12 years ago, they took on the Crow Wing River. Because they both had jobs and children at home, they had to paddle the river in sections with two-three day trips. The Crow Wing River is part of the Minnesota DNR’s State Water Trail. This river rises in a chain of 11 lakes in southern Hubbard County and flows southeast 90 miles before joining the Mississippi River. Once they accomplished their first two rivers which both ended at the Mississippi, it only made sense to tackle the big muddy. In 2006 they took on the first section and have continued down the river every year despite weather setbacks a couple of years due to flooding and extreme heat. This year’s section was to conquer a 200 mile stretch from Hannibal to St. Louis, Missouri. But as weather forecasts predicted sultry 100-plus degree temperatures in August, they had to cancel; it just wouldn’t be safe. To prepare for these longer trips, they have to plan. “We are self sufficient, there is no hotel.” They have to fit all their food, water, tents and clothing in the hull of their kayak for up to eight days as well as be physically ready to paddle 8-10 hours each day. “We

don’t bring a lot of clothing, because who is going to see us?” The clothing gets dirty fast so they basically have their paddling clothing and their camp clothes, just enough to stay warm and dry. There are towns along the way for

Lake Itasca Mississippi Headwaters

2,350 MILES


Wisconsin Paddler friendly, the Mississippi River has campsites approximately every 20 miles.



8-10 possible emergency supplies, but that could require a two mile walk to access the essentials. Spending 8-10 days together can unravel even the best of friends, but Michelle and Jeanette have found a way to co-exist. While they are paddling down the river they sometimes visit but more times than not, they paddle alone on opposite sides of the





EST. • 2006







EST. • 2006

Paddling the “BIG Muddy” About 50-60 people paddle the Mississippi each year starting in Itasca State park. About 30 finish the entire way which takes approximately three months. Not many people do sections each year like Michelle and Jeanette.


Gulf of Mexico

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“Jeanette holds me back and I push her forward. It works.” ~Michelle

“Michelle pushes me past my comfort zone and I keep her from killing us.” ~Jeanette

Try it!

River Trails

river, just as long as they can see each other. Michelle reflected, “We are very different, but we compliment each other. I am very organized; up early and ready to go. Glancing at Jeanette, she added, “Some people take a little longer.” Jeanette agreed, “I am not organized; and I’m not an early riser.” Their kayaking styles are opposite as well. Michelle isn’t afraid and tends to rush headlong into something while Jeanette intercepts with thoughtful problem solving. “Jeanette holds me back and I push her forward. It works.” Jeanette clarified, “She pushes me past my comfort zone and I keep her from killing us.” Minnesota is very paddler friendly. The Mississippi River is a canoe route so there are campsites along the river about every 20 miles, except for the Twin Cities. These campsites aren’t accessible from a public road so they are quiet and even have a few amenities. In the lower river, there are sand islands everywhere. Once the women are out of Minnesota, they prefer to stay in the wild. Campgrounds are nice, but they are more suited to recreational vehicles. They prefer to be alone where it’s peaceful and they don’t have to worry about other people. The women want to be off the river long before dark and start looking for a camping spot around 5 p.m. But before setting up their tents, dinner must be prepared for these hungry paddlers. Michelle insisted, “We eat well.” They have a camp stove and can prepare hot dinners and even dessert. Unlike backpacking, weight doesn’t matter so their meals can be more creative. The two women typically paddle 2025 miles a day without rushing. They stop and visit with fisherman and see

a lot of families. They take swimming breaks about every two hours to move around and cool off. Kayaking 200 miles is not easy. Even though they see very few women paddling, nothing has been so challenging or scary they don’t want to do this anymore. Neither one of them has ever gotten sick. Swarming mosquitoes and flying carp have been infrequent and they have never been unprepared for a thunderstorm. Surprisingly, they haven’t been approached by a bear or startled by a snake. Michelle confirmed, “As long as it’s fun, we are going to keep doing it.” Jeanette countered, “If I see a snake or an alligator bigger than my boat, I might quit.” People are not knocking down the door to join them, in fact, no one has ever asked. Besides the logistics of adding another paddler, it would throw off their dynamics. But they encourage all women to try kayaking. “It’s brought us places in Minnesota, Iowa, Wisconsin, Illinois and Missouri that you will never see unless you were on the river. And the views are so different than driving over a bridge, you see so much more.” Jeanette added, “I’ve also enjoyed meeting all the new people.”

Denise Sundquist is the health and safety coordinator for the Brainerd School District. Since her sons left for college, she has embraced a more active lifestyle including local triathlons, running races and mountain biking with her husband, Matt, on the Cuyuna Mountain Bike Trail System.

For more kayaking information Consider a Brainerd Community Education class, contact Kidder Kayaking, visit the Facebook page for Mississippi River Paddlers and visit the DNR website for mapped water trails.

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the arts

Commencement I used to run to the dam To look at them, The tiny lady’s slippers growing there For all the world to see. How perfect they were! Pink and white, waxen flowers, Most fitting for a princess. “Cinderella Glass slippers, I shall put you on And dance away the night On marbled ballroom floors, My prince and I till dawn.” When golden sun comes up Shining through layered, silver clouds, Casting a rosy glow on soft, blue skies. My sign that morning is here, A day just waiting for a princess.

~ Bonnie Rokke Tinnes

Bonnie Rokke Tinnes has lived in Minnesota most of her life. She is a wife, mother, grandma, teacher, registered nurse, author, poet, and a graduate of both Bemidji State University and the University of North Dakota. After living in the Brainerd lakes area for over 20 years, she and her husband Gilmen moved to Bemidji, where she continues writing for herself and teaching others. The poem “Commencement” is from a book of nature poems that she has written called “Snow Presents and Other Poems.”

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in the minority

Road work was once considered a man’s occupation. The women at Anderson Brother’s Construction have changed that.



Her alarm goes off at 4 a.m. The weather forecast says it will reach the upper 80s and be humid.

Left to right, Sherri Billman, Faye Glein, Bobbie Hayes and Dana Hegarty.

As she pulls on her work boots, she’s planning her day. The lunch she packed last night is in the refrigerator. She grabs that along with plenty of water, puts on her neon safety vest and heads out the door. This is Sherri Billman, a highway construction worker at Anderson Brothers Construction, facing the elements. After a well-deserved winter break, spring has finally arrived, the grass is turning green, the ground is thawing and road construction season has begun. The construction industry is one of those occupations that are non-traditional careers for women and the women that work in these fields have a strong character and can be role models to other females. When you come upon a road construction site you will see women performing a variety of tasks. They may

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be the foreman on a project, driving a dump truck, running a roller, driving a pilot car, flagging or doing maintenance work. It could be Faye Glein or Sherri Billman. There are also the women that work behind the scenes as parts managers, asphalt mix designers, contract managers, or in the accounting field like Bobbie Hayes. Each of these women: Faye Glein, Sherri Billman and Bobbie Hayes play a vital role at Anderson Brothers Construction. They each excel in their area of expertise and are truly role models to girls and other women seeking a career in the construction industry. Currently there are 24 women employed at Anderson Brothers Construction. 2017 will be the 14th construction season for Faye Glein. She started in the Maintenance Division as a laborer

and over the years has held a variety of positions from being a flagger, roller operator, estimator and most recent Quint Axle Truck Driver. Faye says the most rewarding part of her job is helping others. “I will never forget when I first started, I really appreciated when others helped me figure things out. Sue also appreciates “seeing the end results and all the steps that it took to get to the finished product. I love being outside and seeing the wildlife.” Faye grew up on a dairy farm with three older sisters and no boys, “We were the ‘boys’ of the family,” says Faye. Before Anderson Brothers she worked for 16 years as a forklift operator/ material handler. Says Faye, “I’ve always enjoyed doing a … ‘man’s job.’” Sherri Billman has worked in road construction for the past 21 years. When work needs to get done Sherri is there to help, driving a pilot truck, flagging, helping with the maintenance crew or

being a laborer. Her biggest challenge is with distracted drivers. She’s concerned for her colleagues she calls “my family,” who face distracted drivers every day. Sherri emphasizes, “Stop texting, reading a book, putting on

Sherri and Faye starts before dawn. Their day ends after dusk around 8-9 p.m. It is very demanding physically and mentally. The most important aspect for everyone is to return home safely. For 21 years, Bobbie

BIGGEST CHALLENGE? DISTRACTED DRIVERS. “Stop texting, reading a book, putting on makeup, eating or many other distractions while driving and start seeing orange,” Sherri Billman emphasized. makeup, eating or many other distractions while driving and start seeing orange.” Sherri loves her career and the crews she works with. “I wouldn’t change it for nothing,” she says. The most rewarding aspect for Sherri is “the number of positive comments she gets from people on large highway projects.” A regular day during the construction season for

Hayes has worked in the office for Anderson Brothers. Bobbie started as a receptionist and quickly moved up to the payroll manager position, which she holds today. Bobbie is under extreme pressure to make sure all 220-plus employees get paid on time each week. One of the most interesting parts of her job is “meeting new people as they apply for positions and then help-

ing to train them with anything they may need.” Not only does Bobbie process the weekly payroll, she also is the human resource manager, the EEO officer and keeps abreast of law changes in payroll and the Davis Bacon Act. With all the demands of her job I can say that Bobbie manages with respect, patience, knowledge and a positive attitude. What all these women have in common is they all love what they do, pride themselves in their work, have the confidence to pursue their goals and are role models to other women and girls. Dana Hegarty is the chief financial officer for Anderson Brothers Construction. Having grown up with seven sisters, all with different career paths, she enjoys encouraging young girls/women to have the courage to achieve their full potential. Dana is the current president of the Zonta Club of Brainerd, an international organization with a mission to advance the status of women.

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Marlene Pauley Conductor



B JENNY GUNSBURY By very summer as a child, Marlene Pauley remembers all of her extended family gathering at her grandparents’ cabin on North Long Lake. “We practically lived in the lake, never wanting to leave, unless it was to go to Paul Bunyan or the candy store in Nisswa,” she says. Marlene has such fond memories of those summers spent by the lake that when

Scott S cott Lykins, executive director of Lakes Area Music Festival (LAMF) contacted her in 2010 to play the clarinet part in Aaron Copland’s “Appalachian Spring,” the choice was easy.

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After playing clarinet in the orchestra for the 2010 and 2011 seasons, Lykins asked Marlene back as a conductor. From his perspective, Marlene was a great person for the direction the LAMF was heading. “By its third season, the LAMF had grown to the size where adding a chamber orchestra for family concerts was a possibility,” recalls Lykins. “Knowing that she was interested in returning as a conductor, and knowing her reputation doing family concerts around the country, she was a perfect fit.” Marlene conducted the popular St. Paul Chamber Orchestra’s (SPCO) educational CONNECT program and family concerts which gained her national recognition. Prior to that, she spent 20 years in the SPCO as a clarinetist. “I have always loved and craved exposure to music and musicians,” explains Marlene. She graduated with a music education degree from St. Olaf College and went on

to graduate school at Michigan State University. “It was when I was in grad school that I started to believe I could make a living playing the clarinet. Even though my major was music education, I kept practicing my clarinet like a performance major.” That work ethic served her well as she went on to be a soloist and featured performer with the American Wind Symphony Orchestra and teach clarinet at the Crane School of Music and Arkansas State University before landing the clarinet position with the SPCO. Her journey from clarinetist to conductor also took a lot of hard work, but of a more personal nature such as examining her inner strength, courage and belief in herself. Marlene had a revelation while attending a concert for kids in the 1990s. She recalls the conductor talking about music in very simple terms. “I knew it could be done in a better way to be more engaging and educational,” she says. “In 2002,

I dared to take the leap from playing clarinet to conducting. A strong, but gentle and wise woman internal voice kept asking, ‘How about now? Are you ready now?’ I kept pushing the feeling away until I just had to be true to myself.” This process took her 10 years. Reading “The Artist’s Way” by Julia Cameron and taking a course about the book helped her move toward realizing her conducting dream…a dream she had to leave a coveted spot in the SPCO to pursue. There’s no doubt Marlene successfully completed that leap. Her rites of passage into a male-dominated field included experiences that continued to test her mettle. “I attended a school in Maine for advanced conducting,” she explains. “The instructor stripped us down to our most vulnerable places to prepare us for the world of conducting. As students, we took turns conducting while everyone else played in the orchestra. On the podium, if a

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Believe in yourself wrong note was played, you had to know who did it and it better be right. If you weren’t exactly sure, you couldn’t call someone out on it. You had to own it if you wanted to correct someone in front of their peers. It is very humbling to learn in front of an orchestra. You have to be willing to be seen, exposed. It can be really scary.” Since that time, Marlene has built a long and impressive conducting resume. She helped establish and conduct the National Youth Orchestra of Jamaica, was an assistant conductor for the American Wind Symphony Orchestra, conducted concerts for the Rochester (NY) Philharmonic, Naples Philharmonic, Grand Teton Music Festival ( Jackson Hole WY), Virginia Arts Festival and for the Pro Musica Series in Kansas City. Currently, she is the music director of the Wayzata Symphony Orchestra (WSO) in the Twin Cities. When asked about her experience as a woman conductor, she spoke rather candidly. “In general, I don’t feel any prejudice against me,” she replies. “Once you prove yourself, musicians are all over it. It’s not a gender thing at that point. Women offer a vulnerability (to conducting) that men don’t or won’t. It’s organic to us; we’re willing to show vulnerability and sensitivity. That said, if a conductor bends too much on what they demand from the piece or of the players, they will eat you alive. With time, I’ve honed my reasons to defend what I want. I believe male conductors don’t have to do that as much. Balancing what I want on the podium with what other people think should be happening is tough sometimes. It’s a delicate line to walk!” When she conducts family concerts, however, she chooses to distinguish herself from her fellow colleagues in

“Women offer a vulnerability (to conducting) that men don’t or won’t.” a unique way. Marlene loves colorful, long coats with flowing sleeves for easy movement. “Why not be colorful?” she smiles. Her favorite coat was handmade by her aunt. “It has all the instruments beaded on it. She was a big supporter of mine so it is very special.” One of her favorite aspects of her job at the WSO is programming. “My goal is to create an experience people cannot curate on their digital device. There’s access to so much digital music these days that creating a unique live music event is really important,” stresses Marlene. “I also want to be the orchestra that doesn’t behave normally, that does things outside the box. At one concert, we had an accordion

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Marlene likes colorful jackets. Her favorite is one made by her aunt with beaded instruments all over it.

“If it’s in you and you can’t imagine not doing it... telling stories about the conductors and their music, breaking apart an excerpt of music to hear the intricate ways the different parts fit together or demonstrating unusual instruments, Marlene’s narrative enhances the listening experience.” Marlene is equally complimentary of the LAMF. “It’s really a unique experience,” she says. “There is no other festival that connects young professional musicians with seasoned professionals like that. And they are there because they want to be mentors. The rehearsals have a very exciting vibe, there’s lots of energy, and the younger musicians are hungry to learn. It’s a well-run organization and I’m thrilled to be a part of it.”

As her professional life brings her back to a place of her childhood summers, she reflects and traces her success back to opportunity and preparation, along with some luck. To young people going into music today, she says, “If it’s in you and you can’t imagine not doing it, go for it! Believe in yourself and listen to that wise-woman voice.”

Jenny Gunsbury enjoys meeting interesting people and learning new things as a freelance writer for area publications. She lives near the Pillsbury State Forest with her husband and two young adult children.


player and tango music. Dancers were planted in the audience who got up and started dancing during the piece.” Marlene got to showcase her programming talent at the LAMF with that first family concert in 2012. Lykins explains, “I asked Marlene to work with us on an orchestral program that would bring our “Explore Music!” day camp to a conclusion. That season we offered our first chamber orchestra concert titled “Symphonic Tales” that featured an unforgettable performance of Sergei Prokofiev’s “Peter and the Wolf ” with Jeffrey Andrews narrating.” Marlene has conducted the family concerts ever since. Lykins knows that Marlene’s programs easily connect with audiences of all ages. “Whether

Go for it.

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n for Bake Ove y s a E n a ged for rning to hen I beg aren’t lea w u ld o o “Y , rs it a e nd I still ibosh on I was 7 y put the k enerous a g m s o a m w y ta M n . ed baking kfully, Sa Christmas r, I enjoy ulb.” Than te b t in h w g li ll A a . ally. ets cook with g? Not re hen gadg c in it o k d f s o a s w I all sort wasn’t ow what received I guess it . Did I kn r. m e v o e m N y hm clean up? ppeared cakes wit gear disa Did I help . g it in b k a A b ? y ssy r. I don’t se all of m Was I me years late f om becau o m le r p u fo o n fu ac ream. as much ing my d arage sale v g li d o re a o n rh neighbo cal wome during a ! Three lo e k a c e v I still lo bake, but


Dani Sutin, Sweet Life Bakery Dani has a degree in culinary arts, but did not start seriously baking until she was at Grandview Lodge. When Dani found out she was pregnant with her second child, she left the resort community to be at home with her children. And while she was home, she found herself baking all day. Her business, Sweet Life Bakery, started quietly through a Facebook post. All of Dani’s cakes are made from scratch using old school ingredients. She is famous for her French Macarons she often uses as toppings for her cakes. Dani’s specialty is her Italian meringue buttercream which incorporates meringue, hot syrup and butter pieces. It’s less sweet and silky smooth. Facebook: Sweet Life Bakery. Instagram sweetlifebakery218.

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Jackie Tyrell, Edible Art Bakery Jackie comes from a long line of good cooks, chefs and bakers. She can make pretty much anything, but is known for her wedding cakes. She does not advertise; it’s all word of mouth. Her two most famous cakes are the Triple Chocolate Truffle Cake and the Vanilla Bean Creme Brûlée Cake with Fresh Blackberries. Besides her wedding cakes, Jackie has baked for Coco Moon for nearly 12 years and has just started baking for Northern Cowboy Flame N’ Brew where they serve her original dessert: Chocolate Stout Cake with Caramel Mousse and Bourbon Buttercream.



Becky Kubesh, Kubesh Cakery Becky started baking 18 years ago when her son wanted an Elmo birthday cake. When she couldn’t find one, she learned how to make one. She enjoyed the experience and kept on baking. Eventually, she was asked to bake cakes for weddings at local resorts. Her signature cakes include a Dark Chocolate Ganache Torte Cake with chocolate buttercream and her Raspberry Swirl Cake with a simple buttercream. Becky is always looking for interesting ways to display her cakes at events. She’s quick to stop at a garage sale or second hand store to look for unique cake plates and other baking items. As we sat in her cake baking kitchen, I couldn’t help but notice some baking items looked familiar. Too familiar.

Kathryn Sundquist is a junior at Brainerd High School. She dances at Just For Kix and is a member of her high school dance team, The Kixters.

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: s e o t a Tom

Seed to Saucepan BY JOANN WEAVER


lose your eyes and imagine a warm day in

August. It’s almost time for dinner and you’ve just walked into the garden looking for a little something to take back to the kitchen. Hmmm…what will it be? Stop! There it is, just waiting: a perfectly ripe, sun-warmed tomato, a little taste of heaven for sure!

Close your eyes and imagine a warm day in August. It’s almost time for dinner and you’ve just walked into the garden looking for a little something to take back to the kitchen. Hmmm…what will it be? Stop! There it is, just waiting: a perfectly ripe, sun-warmed tomato, a little taste of heaven for sure! The rest of the good news is it’s your garden so there’s not just one tomato but rather lots of them in various colors, shapes, sizes, in all stages of development, and (depending on your gardening practices) pesticide-free. Making your tomato dreams come true is relatively easy. The first step involves doing a little research, followed by some planning, and then some hands-on activity. Keep in mind, we live in plant hardiness Zone 3b which means the last average frost date is May 27 and the first average frost date is mid-to-late September. This gives us, plus or minus,

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around 115 growing days. Some of the heirloom varieties take over a hundred days to mature so the threat of frost could be imminent just as they reach their peak production. Seed packages provide the “Days to Maturity” information needed to make an informed decision. Take into consideration the intended use of the tomatoes at harvest and if the variety is “determinate” (reaches a predetermined size and stops growing) or “indeterminate” (grows all season, tends to sprawl, and does best with support to keep the tomatoes off the ground). If you’re starting tomatoes from seed, begin that process about six to eight weeks before the last frost date. Regardless of whether you start your plants from seed or purchase from your local nursery, you should factor in time to “harden off ” the plants before they are placed in the garden. “Hardening off ”

involves gradually introducing the plants to the outdoor environment. For the first few days, give them a little sunshine, no more than a gentle breeze, and remember to shelter them during the cool night hours. In five or six days, after increasing their exposure, they are ready to face the world on their own. The planting site should be in an area where tomatoes, potatoes, eggplant and peppers haven’t been planted in the previous three to four years. If planting in containers, use fresh soil. Reusing the same soil, whether it’s in a garden, a raised bed, or a container, increases the likelihood of disease. It’s best to plant in the late afternoon (after the intense afternoon sun) in 70-degree soil. If the stems are too leggy, consider “trench planting” which simply means digging a trench in which to place the plant rather than digging a deep hole. Position three to four sets of leaves to remain above the ground and pinch off all others. Be careful not to overly handle the stems as they will grow additional side roots once planted in the ground. Mark the position of the roots so they are not disturbed by cultivation at a later date. Add water at the base of the plant and mulch to keep dirt from splashing on the leaves which will eventually cause disease. Distance between plants should be as follows: staked – 18 to 24 inches, rows three feet apart; not staked – three feet, rows five

feet apart; caged – 24 to 36 inches, rows and looking for a saucepan or, better yet, four feet apart. just popping this tasty fruit straight into Keep the plants watered (at ground your mouth. Enjoy. level instead of using an overhead sprinkler) with an average of one inch of water per week. Tomatoes are heavy feeders so fertilize when planted, again when JoAnn’s Favorite fruit first sets, and then every two weeks. Tomato Recipe Use fertilizer that is low in nitrogen, high in phosphorus, and medium high 8 firm, ripe, sliced tomatoes. Slice in potassium and work it into the top and place in a shallow serving dish. couple inches of soil about 8-10 inches Marinate: from the stem. Keep the weeds pulled 1 clove, crushed garlic as they compete for nutrients and attract ½ cup olive or salad oil pests. Don’t work in your garden when ½ cup chopped parsley the plants are wet as that will increase ½ teaspoon pepper the probability of spreading disease from ¼ cup tarragon vinegar plant to plant. Once a week, walk through 2 teaspoons sugar the garden with a small bucket of soapy 4 heaping teaspoons prepared water. If, in checking the plants, you find “everyday” yellow mustard any pests, just drop them into the water 2 teaspoons salt to eliminate potential problems. If you see plant leaves starting to turn In a medium size bowl, mix all the brown and curl on the edges, immediingredients for marinate together and pour over tomatoes. ately go to your computer and find the Let set for 20-30 minutes and following website: http://www.extenserve at room temperature Search for these topics: Disorders of tomatoes, What insect is this?, Is this plant a weed?, What’s wrong with my plant? Preventing probJoAnn Weaver, a U of M lems is so much easier than treating Extension Master Gardener, is an avid gardener them. growing fruits, vegetables Now, you’re almost right back where and herbs in her home garyou started, but this time it’s for real. den in addition to tending flock of chickens Tomato in hand, headed to the kitchen to a smalland two beehives.

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yard and garden

Owner, Amy Swensen



hen you enter The Backyard Greenhouse near Crosby, you’re greeted by gazing balls, hanging wind chimes, fairy garden accessories and crates and bins filled with a wide array of goods.

The “tomato and pepper girl,” Amy’s daughter, Morgan, helps in the greenhouse.

Owner Amy Swensen said first time customers often express surprise when they discover the variety of products. Each January, Amy, and her husband, Bill, haul a trailer full of the metal garden accents back from Texas. “We try to carry a little something for everyone,” she explained. Customers come not only to stock up on the requisite staples of flowers, plants and trees, but also to browse all of the enchanting nooks and crannies of the property. Amy planted her first garden at age 21, the year she married. She was immediately hooked. “I knew that gardening would be a part of me from that point on,” she said. Gardening took a backseat while she and Bill raised three children. During those years she worked at Cuyuna Regional Medical Center in Crosby. While she loved her job, the desire to immerse herself fully into gardening kept tugging at her heart. This led to part-time jobs at the Little Country Greenhouse and the Wal-Mart Garden Center. It was after reading “48 Days to the Work You Love” by Dan Miller that

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Amy decided the time had come to follow her heart and pursue a career change. Amy asked the owner of the Little Country Greenhouse for more hours. During the conversation, she learned the greenhouse was for sale. Excited but nervous, she went home and prayed about it. “I prayed a lot,” Amy said. “Really a lot,” she said with a laugh. She knew such a major life change would affect the entire family. After much reflection and family discussion, they made the decision to purchase the Backyard Greenhouse in 2011. Amy took a cautious approach, not quitting her medical center position right away. After juggling both jobs for a year, she took the leap of faith and devoted herself entirely to the greenhouse. With no formal education in the area of horticulture, she relied on the knowledge gleaned from working at the Garden Center and the Greenhouse. “It was mostly baptism by fire,” she laughed. “The support of the community has been awesome.” Each family member helps at the Greenhouse. Bill, who Amy lov-

Crosby resident Joan Hasskamp is currently finishing up a humorous book titled “We Don’t Care Who Wins as Long as Joan Loses.” Now that she is retired she has even more time to embellish and exaggerate stories about herself.

Amy displays “yard art” at The Backyard Greenhouse.

member of the Cuyuna Lakes Chamber of Commerce because she can help other businesses achieve their goals. It’s because of her supportive and generous nature she was recently recognized as the Crosby Fire Department Auxiliary member of the year. One of Amy’s goals is to keep the business open year round. Future projects include expanding the re-

tail space in the shop and adding a healing garden, a place where visitors could stop, reflect and pray. “Gardening is healing,” she believes. Amy is thankful she took the leap of faith and pursued her dream. “Owning the greenhouse has allowed me to develop what’s in my heart and share it with others,” she said, “To plant a seed is to plant hope.”

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ingly calls the “Head Grunt,” is her goto guy. When he isn’t working full-time at Crow Wing Cooperative Power & Light Company or volunteering with the Crosby Fire Department, he hauls, builds, fixes and does whatever chore is required. Daughter Bailey, who recently graduated from college and works two other jobs, helps with Facebook marketing and assists customers. Morgan, a student at St. Scholastica, loves the production part of the business. She waters, fertilizes and provides tender loving care to the plants. “We affectionately call her our ‘tomato and pepper girl,’” Amy said. Son Jon, who just finished linesman school, assists with deliveries, stocking and manual labor. “I’m so blessed to have family support; everyone steps up and does what needs to be done,” she said. As part of her interest in promoting healthy growing and eating, Amy hosts a farmer’s market at the Greenhouse during the summer and through harvest time. In addition to vegetables, vendors sell honey, jam, jellies and baked goods. “I offer it as a community service,” Amy said. Protecting the environment along with the bees is important to Amy. The Greenhouse uses organic fertilizer whenever possible. No harmful chemicals are ever applied to plants consumed by people or animals. All retail seeds are 100 percent certified non-GMO (genetically modified organism). “We only sell items that meet our philosophy of healthy plants,” she said. Amy offers a variety of popular classes including; decorating with winter greens, fairy gardening, repurposed window decorating, seed starting and a spring showcase event. When a class of first graders visited, she encouraged them to touch and feel the plants, even if it meant losing a few petals or flowers. Amy possesses a strong sense of community pride. She loves being a board


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Beer to s e i r r e b e Blu




Lise Herren is a former Fortune 500 corporate executive who decided to opt out of corporate America in order to work outside with her hands in the dirt and in the company of her dogs. She’s the owner of Jake and Scout’s Berry Farm where blueberries, raspberries and flowers grow within a beautiful landscape of gently rolling hills surrounded by trees.

PHOTOS BY JOEY HALVORSON Lise Herren, owner of Jake and Scout’s Berry Farm, tastes a blueberry fresh from the vine.

Lise and her two friendly golden retrievers welcome you to their farm and provide you with a bucket and tips on the best blueberry picking for the day. You are free to wander, pick as many berries as you like, play with the dogs or simply rest in the peacefulness of it all. “Some berry farmers talk about wanting to grow the best berries” says Lise. “My vision and dream was to create a special place where people come to have an experience that includes feeling welcomed, loved by the dogs, calm and carefree.” I remember my experience at Jake and Scout’s Berry Farm as meditative. I found myself thinking about nothing other than finding that next big plump blueberry. Not only did I

leave with a bucket of the best blueberries I have ever tasted but I left feeling happy, carefree and relaxed. But how does the global head of metal and energy purchasing for Anheuser-Busch Inbev go from traveling worldwide to operating a YouPick berry farm and driving a tractor in Lake Shore? Lise was born in Kansas City in 1960 and raised in the Chicago area. Her mother grew up on a farm in rural Kansas and most summers the family went to visit. Lise loved the farm, the animals and how everyone seemed to know each other and look out for each other. Entering college at the University of Missouri, Lise wanted to become a veterinarian, but her aptitude for analysis and statistics lead to an interest in com-

22 22 her hervoice voice| |Summer Summer2017 2017• •Share Shareyour yourvoice voicewith withus uson onFacebook Facebook

modity futures and a master’s degree in agricultural economics. When she started working for Anheuser Busch, Lise says, “it was a male-dominated field.” It was important for her to become a woman leader in her field. “I wanted to reach my potential and so I worked hard and took on new challenges.” After 20 years with Anheuser-Busch, Lise retired when the company was bought out by Inbev. Lise and her husband Dan built a home in Lake Shore in 2004, and she began to ponder the question “If I had more time, what would I do?” She knew whatever she did after retiring would have to be outdoors, involve physical activity and include her dogs. “In St. Louis,” she says, “I

Jake and Sco orth (left) Maureen Farnsw husband es with picks blueberri een Baribeau. ad W Michael and

lived in a house that had four full grown blueberry plants in the yard that were prolific and easy to care for.” She thought, ‘if I can garden, I can grow blueberries.’” The Herrens purchased their farm land in 2009 and Lise learned all she could about growing blueberries through the internet and extension agencies. “What I didn’t realize was how hard it was to establish new plants,” she laughs. But not afraid of a challenge, they prepared the soil, built a pole barn and were ready to plant in 2011. With the help of eight friends they planted 1,750 blueberry bushes in just five days. The farm is named after Lise and Dan’s dogs who died before they opened the farm. When the planting was done, the Herrens and their

ut’s Berry Fa



1822 County Rd 29, Lake Shore jakeandscou tsberryfarm .com

friends spread Jake and Scout’s ashes at the entry of the farm as a blessing and celebration. There have been many challenges but Lise is no stranger to hard work and figuring things out. “One year we had an unexpected spring freeze. I put out a request by text for help and within an hour, seven people showed up to help cover plants in the sleet and bitter cold,” says Lise. Still, Lise gets a thrill driving up to the farm with her dogs and looking out over the landscape she helped create. After more than 20 successful years of corporate work, Lise has come home to herself and set a different course for her life. She has reconnected with the part of herself that is a steward of the earth,

that loves animals and growing things and now wants to share that with others. She has found that small community she admired as a child where people know each other and support each other in times of need.

Maureen Farnsworth is a certified yoga therapist offering trauma sensitive yoga and selfcompassion and mindfulness classes at Lakes Country Counseling. A contributing writer for Her Voice, Maureen enjoys nurturing her creativity and supporting the arts. She’s also active, enjoys nature and time outdoors. She lives in Nisswa with her husband Michael and is the mother of two young men.

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The house lights go down. The stage lights go up. A single note from the orchestra silences the crowd. Already, your heart is beating the rhythm of the song. All the instruments are coming into play. The spotlight is on the singer who draws in a breath, using the lyrics and the melody to paint their picture, cast a spell and tell the story. As an audience member, the performance feels like magic. As a performer, it can feel like a mountaintop experience. With the hard work and dedication of an Olympian and learning from skilled teachers and mentors, three young people from the Brainerd lakes area are pursuing careers in music. Violinist Ava Figliuzzi and flutist Claire Gunsbury have chosen a post-secondary option to get a head start on their music education. Tenor Zach Rude, a 2016 graduate from BHS, is a vocal performance major at Concordia College in Moorhead. The three have all benefited from the Lakes Area Music Festival (LAMF) and working with the professional musicians who have come to the Brainerd lakes area the first weeks in August for the past 10 years, providing the community with exceptional orchestral and operatic experiences. When Ava attended Kindermusik as a preschooler, she heard someone playing violin and told her mom that she wanted to learn the instrument. She took private lessons locally and joined the school orchestra as a 6th grader. She was already advanced by that time and played with the Heartland Symphony Orchestra, playing her first solo with them when she was 13 years old. At that time, her parents helped her find a violin teacher in the Twin Cities, driving every Saturday to violin lessons. She was in soccer and cross country as well, but Saturdays were “Violin Saturdays.” Ava said that although she started playing violin at age four, “You don’t have to start an instrument that young. You

can start anytime. It’s the amount of time you put in it that matters.” Claire agrees. She began playing the flute at the end of her 5th grade year at Forestview Middle School. “If you start too young, you can develop bad habits.” She began private lessons with Julie Johnson in the Twin Cities when she was in 7th grade. Her mom drove her to the metro every other week, on a school night, in support of her music education. “It’s not how late you start,” says Claire, “It’s how much you practice.” Both she and Ava practice on average four hours a day. Both Ava and Claire play in the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphonies (gtcys. org), taking advantage of every opportunity to improve their playing and gain experience performing. You need to play in front of an audience, they said. You need to know how your body will respond to the nerves you feel as you perform. Every musician knows you can have something practiced and polished, memorized even, and when you get in front of an audience, your nerves take over. Both girls use breathing exercises and stretching, as well as mental prep, to ready themselves for both practice and performance. Claire and Ava are attending the University of Minnesota in their music program for their senior year post-secondary option. They take classes at the University, are in the chamber orchestra as well as smallFlutist Claire Gunsbury and violinist Ava er ensembles. They Figliuzzi practice four hours a day still play with the developing their skills. youth symphony and take private lessons.

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on Facebook • Summer her voice Like Like us onusFacebook • Summer 20172017 | her |voice 25 25

Get Involved • Attend LAMF performances • Host a musician • Participate in the youth music program called Explore Music • Community orchestra • Side-by-side rehearsals and Masterclasses Your student’s music teacher can also help you make a connection with the festival and the musicians.


2017 Masterclass: Saturdays, Aug. 5, 12, 19

Side-by-side orchestra:

rehearsal with local musicians: Aug. 14

Open rehearsals: (preceded by an informal Q&A discussion with a featured musician) July 31, Aug. 4, 7, 10, 14, 17

Summer Lessons Claire and Ava will be taking students this summer. Email for more info:

Ava attended Kindermusik as a preschooler, took lessons and now plays in the Greater Twin Cities Youth Symphony.

With the post-secondary option, they are able to take the courses they need for their music education, participate in the musical groups, and have time to practice. Zach Rude also feels like he has more time to dedicate to his music while on a college schedule. He didn’t discover his gift for singing until he was in high school. He took a few voice lessons from Joy Ciaffoni in the spring of his sophomore year, auditioned for Minnesota All State Lutheran Choir, and got his first choral experience touring and singing with them in the summer of 2014. He joined the high school choir as a junior, made All-State choir as a senior, sang solos in Acapella, and landed the role of Nicely Johnson in BHS’s musical “Guys and Dolls.” Concordia College offered him a music scholarship where he is now studying under Dr. David Hamilton, singing in two choirs and performing with the Fargo-Moorhead Opera. All three musicians credit the LAMF and the professionals who perform here with giving them inspiration and learning opportunities. All three musicians participated in the Masterclasses where they work one-on-one with one of the visiting professionals in a lesson conducted in front of an audience. They come with a prepared piece, then work with the teacher while the audience observes and learns along with the student. Watching the interaction of teacher and student gives you a deeper insight into developing a musical skill. You might think a performance is already great, and the teacher brings out even more nuance and detail to make it extraordinary. Claire said, “My experiences with the LAMF have been by far some of the best I’ve had as a musician. I have loved the unique opportunity the festival provides to grow not only as a musician, through the Masterclasses and side-by-sides (rehearsals), but also as a professional. It is also incredible to witness how the festival has brought our 26 her voice | Summer 2017 • Share your voice on Facebook

community together in support of music and education.” Scott Lykins, a 2004 graduate from BHS, started LAMF with his friend John “Taylor” Ward. “Having grown up in the lakes area, it makes me particularly proud to see the many wonderful opportunities that LAMF brings to the youth of the area. Not only can the concerts inspire young musicians, but through Masterclasses, our side-by-side rehearsal and the Music Mentors Project, this organization connects them with some of the top professional musicians in the world. It is exciting to see the success of such wonderfully talented students and an honor to consider how the Festival has played a role in their development.” Taylor worked with Zach for his Masterclass and has asked him to join the LAMF this summer in the chorus for their opera, “Carmen.” He writes: “I’m proud of the thousands of kids who have participated in our programs. It is an amazing gift to get to watch these kids become smart, passionate, kind young adults, and every year, as new young people get involved, it is wonderful to think of who they will be in 10 years and how the LAMF can be a source of inspiration in their lives.” All three musicians keep their goals in mind as they pursue their dreams. You may see them onstage or in the orchestra for operas, professional musicals, the philharmonic, making music for the movies, or performing in some other professional way. The possibilities are vast, and the competition fierce, and they are well on their way to successful careers in music.

Mary Aalgaard’s son Zach Rude took voice lessons as a high school sophomore, sang in choirs and musicals and now as a college student at Concordia performs with the Fargo-Moorhead Opera.

Mary Aalgaard is a playwright and piano/theater teacher who writes theater reviews. She teaches youth theater workshops in the Brainerd lakes area, writes articles for regional magazines, and works with both seniors and youth in multi-generational programs to enhance quality of life and build community. You can follow her on her Play off the Page Facebook page, @MaryAalgaard on Twitter and email her at

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Destinations Short and satisfying


ISO [ in search of ]

“Let’s go for a ride” were exciting words for me to hear as a child. My family was big on what we called ‘Sunday drives,’ a day when Mom would pack the picnic basket and we’d all pile into the family truckster for a fun day exploring the Brainerd lakes area and beyond. Back then, money was short, but our desire for adventure was big. This prompted my parents to choose destinations relatively close to home and inexpensive, but ones that my sister and I found fascinating. As a parent, I am committed to carrying on the Sunday drive tradition with my brood and here are a few things on my summer travel list.

Living Legacy Gardens

2 miles north of Staples near CLC Campus

Photo courtesy of Living Legacy Gardens.

When Gardens Can Heal: Throughout history, gardens have been used to aid in the healing process. Residents of this area are blessed with several healing gardens, many of which are located within medical campuses. There is one garden that horticulture enthusiasts gladly drive a few extra miles to enjoy. Living Legacy Healing Gardens is located two miles north of Staples near the Central Lakes College campus. The first garden was planted in 2000 and those who visit this tranquil place throughout the year will be rewarded with a wide variety of horticultural experiences. August is typically the month with the most flower color since the cone flowers, lilies, phlox and asters are exploding into oranges, yellows, purples and pinks. The garden is open to visitors at all times and there are even lights for visiting at dusk or in the evening hours.

Mille Lacs Kathio State Park Onamia

With 9,000 years of human history and archaeological significance, Mille Lacs Kathio State Park in Onamia is a National Historic Landmark with much to offer. Not only is this state park easy to find, it is simply gorgeous. Visitors can learn about the rich history and all of Kathio’s other treasures at the Interpretive Center, climb the 100-foot observation/fire tower and look across the majesty of Mille Lacs Lake, enjoy a self-guided boardwalk Bog Walk, indulge in the man-made swimming hole with sandy beach or launch a canoe for a trip on the historic Rum River and Ogechie and Shakopee lakes. Drive time from Brainerd to Mille Lacs Kathio State Park is roughly 50 minutes. 28 her voice | Summer 2017 • Share your voice with us on Facebook

Minnesota Fishing Museum

Located on West Broadway in Little Falls

Photo courtesy of Minnesota Fishing Museum.

the Minnesota Fishing Museum is a non-profit 501(c)3 dedicated to preserving the history and heritage of freshwater fishing in Minnesota. The museum has many artifacts on display including lures, rods, boats, minnow buckets, over 80 individual displays, over 100 motors, creels, augers, over 900 spearing decoys, Les Kouba display, made in Minnesota display, fly fishing display and much more. You don’t have to be from a “fishy family” to appreciate this unique museum. The historical aspect is fascinating for visitors of any age and a way to get an understanding how much sport and hobby fishing as we know it has evolved and changed. Visit the website for times and admission fees. Minnesota Fish Museum is roughly 30 miles south of Brainerd.the evening hours.

Cuyuna Trails Ironton/Crosby

Photo courtesy of Touchtheskyblue.

Only about 27 minutes from Brainerd, the Cuyuna Trails area has become a popular destination for nature lovers, hikers and mountain bikers. The old rock deposits and former mining pits that have been transformed into clear lakes add to already magnificent scenery perfect for a nature hike. For those who fancy getting round on two wheels, bike trails of all skill levels are available including the Cuyuna Lakes Trail and the Paul Bunyan Trail. This area has also become popular for bird watchers who can enjoy a long list of native birds to spy on. For those who are feeling especially adventuresome there are three 7-person yurts located along Yawkey Mine Lake. Yurts are insulated canvas tents with wood floors and woodstoves, and are perfect for those who want a “camping” experience but prefer not to sleep on the ground.

Wander Walker Ironton/Crosby

If shopping and meandering is more your style, consider heading north about 60 scenic miles to re-discover the charm and uniqueness of Walker. Just a short walk down their main street reveals a treasure-trove of charming shops, galleries, sweet treats, clothing boutiques, outdoor outfitters and cafes. If history is something you crave, The Cass County Museum invites guests to stop by and learn about the settlement of Cass County. Not only does this museum provide history and insight to the original inhabitants of the county, it boasts one of the largest exhibits of Ojibwe artifacts in northern Minnesota. Other exhibits include those on fur trade, lumbering, transportation and the early pioneers, all designed to give guests a look into life of years gone by.

Rebecca Flansburg is a proud mom of two who spends her time freelance writing, blogging and being the project manager for the national children’s literacy event Multicultural Children’s Book Day. When not writing, she appreciates being outside, reading and spending time with her kids. You can connect with her on Twitter as @RebeccFlansburg or via her blog

Photo courtesy of Cass County Museum, Walker. Like us on Facebook • Summer 2017 | her voice 29

Claudia Around the World


S ome of us dream of packing up

and taking off to s ee the world, but Claudia Allene did it. In March 2013, she boarded a plane bound for Japan, thinking she would travel for about one year. Following her dream to circumvent the globe and utiliz ing leads from a worldwide network of friends, her journey stretched into thre e amazing years and 41 countries.

Claudia’s passion for travel began at age 17 when she accompanied her parents to Israel on a business trip, followed by cruising the Greek Islands, driving the coast of Yugoslavia and flying out of Rome. “My life was forever changed,” says Claudia. In 1998, after living in Munich, Germany, and Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, she moved

World traveler Cl audia Allene “cashes in” on a free hug in Japa n.

“Networking was a main source of my itinerary, If I got a lead, I ran with it!” - Cla udia

to Nisswa to care for her mother. “When she passed, I was devastated. I wanted to go as far away as possible. She had been my best friend and my favorite traveling companion,” she says. Claudia cashed in her frequent flyer miles and started researching programs that traded work for lodging. Japan would have been expen-

30 30 herher voice | Summer 2017 • Share your voice with on Facebook voice | Summer 2017 • Share your voice onus Facebook

sive had she not found a website for farming opportunities ( Through this connection, she met Aiko, a Japanese woman who makes rice paper art out of the flowers she cultivates on her land. Like Claudia, she also ran a community art gallery, so it seemed to be a perfect match. However, when Claudia stepped off the train southwest of Tokyo,

Jeet (center) and his sister hosted Claudia in New Delhi.

Claudia with a Sadhu (Holy Man) in Kathmandu, Nepal. The Sadhu live from donations given by believers.

Africa, and Jeet and Naresh from India. Her first CLC reunion was with the boys in New Delhi. “My favorite thing to do was to ride with Jeet on his motorcycle through the city streets filled with garbage and beautiful children on the way to his family home located in the slums. They greeted me with a blessing of pooja, sacred powder,

dotted on my forehead. They took me to a room, barely larger than the double bed that filled it. I was quickly surrounded by excited children. The adults cleared them out and brought in food, which we ate on the bed. Then, the kids took me up on the roof to fly their handmade kites. Even though they treated me like a rock star, I thought I fit right


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Aiko looked her over and “She was not impressed,” Claudia grinned. “I guess I didn’t look like a worker.” The next morning, Claudia reported for duty dressed in jeans, hair in a ponytail and without makeup. “She asked me if I could use a chainsaw. I said, no, but I could learn.” That attitude proved a guiding mantra throughout her journey. Claudia gathered firewood, cleaned the gallery and anything that Aiko needed. After a few days, both of their first impressions had changed. This was one of many dear friendships to follow. “Networking was a main source of my itinerary,” Claudia explained. “If I got a lead, I ran with it!” Thanks to one connection, she took a sunset flight over Tokyo’s skyline. She found another friend’s favorite Cambodian tuk-tuk driver by showing his photo around for a week. Claudia spent six weeks accompanying a professional world-travel photographer friend on assignment to “what seemed like every monastery in India, Tibet and Nepal.” One day, they entered Ladakh, India, and chanced upon the Dalai Lama speaking to 175,000 people. Other destinations were preplanned. Claudia had mentored Central Lakes College international students, Ndumi from South

Like Like us us on on Facebook Facebook •• Summer Summer 2017 2017 || her her voice voice 31 31

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g Neck’ h a ‘Lon urma. it w ia d of B Clau woman

ing out k ic t s , t e “In Tib sign of a is e u g your ton nd respect. greeting a to know!” ing A good th

in until that day a policeman stopped us . . . to see if I was being kidnapped!” “I always feel like I fit in,” she laughed, pointing to a photo where she stands encircled by herds of goats and sheep waiting on the edge of a mountain road while the avalanche crew cleared away the debris. Another photo shows her bending to cut a lock of hair from a newly ordained monk as Thai villagers circle him ceremoniously. In another, she is mounted on a Mongolian horse, outside a yurt ($2/night), where she first tasted mare’s milk. “That was not my favorite,” Claudia shared, “but it is common courtesy to take what you are offered.” Participation is an essential ingredient to fitting in. “I’d greet people with a big hello and a smile,” she said of communication. Little kids laugh and interact un-

encumbered by language. She spoke German with her Japanese neighbor, used her Spanish in South America and noted gestures. “In Tibet, sticking out your tongue is a sign of greeting and respect. A good thing to know!” she chuckled. “Tibet is one of those exotic places,” she continued, “like Borneo, Sri Lanka and the longnecked women of Burma. I like tribal things that, for me, seem bizarre. Yet, I finally realized that England qualifies, too.” In one and a half years, Claudia had visited every country in Southeast Asia except Taiwan. She traveled to Europe via Dubai. She connected with friends in Ireland, Switzerland, Scotland and Greece, to name a few, before moving on to South Africa. “In South Africa, it was great to have Ndumi, my CLC student, help me

3232her us on Facebook hervoice voice| Summer | Summer2017 2017• Share • Shareyour yourvoice voicewith on Facebook

ts (with Claudia wai for the s) at o g an avaremoval of a road in lanche over dia. er h Nort n In

“Be respectful and prepared to adjust your attitude.” understand the culture and safety of her country.” Buenos Aires was ‘back on her side of the world.’ “I love the Latinos and their incredible zest for life,” she says. “Their happiness, festivals and even the daily markets are a fiesta.” Claudia moved slowly northward through the Chilean vineyards, Peru’s Machu Picchu and Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands before running into Colombia’s. . . guinea pig races! “You place your coins on top of a numbered container set out on the street. The guinea pig is released and runs for shelter. If he hides in the hutch you bet on, you win!” Before passing judgment, think ‘turtle races.’ Travel is a time to dispense with judging and be open to new insights. “I saw cows eating in garbage piles right outside the shop that was sell-

School children in Thailand.

Claudia rides through the jungles of Laos on elephant back. Other world transportation included camels, tuk-tuks, mo-peds and biking.

A shop in Cusco where Claudia purchased some antique textile fabrics.

ing diamonds. Slums had no running water, but the people were clean. I visited a girls’ school and saw their excitement in getting an education. Even teens in Mongolia dress in jeans and feel they are too cool for school,” Claudia observed. “Be respectful and prepared to adjust your attitude.” As for attitude, she said, “Some people complain about traveling during the monsoons. It rains buckets for hours, filling the streets. It’s terribly exciting!” She seems able to make every experience into a positive one. And, she is grateful. “For me, gratitude is a combination of grateful and attitude,” Claudia reflected. “I met so many warm and accommodating people throughout the world. Americans need to get that message.” After three years, Claudia experienced the ultimate culture shock: Returning home! “Talk about changes,” she gasped. “Not so much the people, but the products. At the grocery store, instead of one cooking oil spray, there were 10 herbal varieties.

“Little kids laugh and interact unencumbered by language.”

“Please, say yes to life and follow your dreams!” I was overwhelmed with choices “Say, yes to life and follow your and the fast pace. I needed time to dreams!” readjust.” She took a deep breath and stared Jan Kurtz’s idea of a fine summer day a the thousands of photos floating includes a kayak, a across her computer screen while we creek and no biting insects. She enjoys spoke. “Travel changes everything,” being at the cabin she reiterated quietly. “Now, I want with her mother to to guide others around to the world. welcome friends and family. After the sun I don’t want Americans to be afraid. goes down, she pracMedia messages don’t present the tices her Spanish by watching telenovelas. amazing world that I experienced.” Her plan is to be in “Please,” Claudia concluded, Spain this fall, then return to write some more. Free Consultation & Face Mapping with Sarah Proudly using Dermalogica Skin Care Products & Jane Iredale Cosmetics

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Sere Kratochwill (left) and Jill Mick are co-teachers and co-directors of Bright Beginnings Children’s Center.

Bright Beginnings By REBECCA FLANSBURG

For more than 17 years, two dynamic women have been working side by side in a profession most agree takes a special kind of heart and soul. As co-teachers and co-directors of Bright Beginnings Children’s Center, Sere Kratochwill and Jill Mick have never lost sight of their number one goal: providing a safe, loving and nurturing place for the lakes area’s littlest citizens. 34 her voice | Summer 2017 • Share your voice with us on Facebook


child care

Founded in 1993, Bright Beginnings Children’s Center is a non-profit Christian-based childcare center within the First Presbyterian Church on South Eighth Street. Once inside, visitors will find a bright, cheery space buzzing with activity and learning. This licensed child care center and preschool accepts toddler or preschool-aged children while also meeting all of the criteria set forth by the MN Department of Human Services for Childcare facilities.

“...All children are unique and deserving of the best care and education possible.” ~Jill

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“Bright Beginnings was founded on the philosophy that all children are unique and deserving of the best care and education possible,” says Jill. “Sere and I have been working for almost two decades to offer a cozy, nurturing and homelike environment to children while working to meet the developmental needs of children physically, intellectually and emotionally.” They both have bachelor of science degrees in education or related fields, but their focus is “letting kids be kids.” Each day starts and ends with free play. Sere and Jill began work at the center as teachers, but when the offer arose to take on the positions of co-directors and co-teachers, the pair jumped at the opportunity. During the years that followed, the two women, along with team member, Marilyn Jones, continued the center’s work of caring for the Brainerd lakes area littles. After Marilyn retired, they chose to reduce their child numbers from 30-plus to around 15-17 kids. “This allowed us to give more one-on-one attention to the little ones who came to this program and that is a decision we have never regretted,” Sere added.

Call for an appointment today! (218) 829-1166 | 313 NW 3rd St. Brainerd, Mn Like us on Facebook • Summer 2017 | her voice 35

“We both agree that being here, working with these kids, is our mission in life... These kids and their families become like our family.” ~ Sere

The center’s spacious and enclosed courtyard is shielded from views of the street and offers many opportunities for kids to not only “get their wiggles out,” but also enjoy activities like game playing and ball activities. “There are a lot of singing, dancing and laughter going on here on a daily basis,” Sere confirmed. “We spend a lot of time focusing on care, forehead kissing and comforting. We both agree that being here, working with these kids, is like our mission in life.” Children who come to the center at 16 months typically stay until they are school age. “These kids and their families become like our family,” says Sere. Second generation children are also coming back to Bright Beginnings for child care. “We have taken care of so many kids over the years and we remember each and every one of them,” Jill says. “We have high-schoolers pop in on occasion and ask if we remember them from the days where they were enrolled at Bright Beginnings. We always say ‘of course we do!’ The relationships we create with kids and families continue long after they’ve left our center and that is something we are very grateful for.” If the thought of managing and nurturing over a dozen busy little bodies 52 weeks a year makes your blood pressure rise a few points, both women credit family, a healthy lifestyle, a love of children and a strong friendship with each other for keeping themselves centered and excited to come to work every day. “We are more like sisters,” Sere observed. “I have her back and she has mine.” Both women love what they do and haven’t had a sick day in 17 years. “We just power through those days we don’t feel great or have things on our mind,” continues Sere. When retirement is on the horizon, both ladies agree their friendship will stay strong. “I know I will probably still be texting Jill at 4 a.m. or 10 p.m. like we do now,” Sere confirmed with a laugh. “The love and snuggles that Sere and I get on a daily basis here is priceless,” Jill added. “We feel like we’ve changed a lot of lives here. And they’ve changed ours as well. We can’t imagine doing anything else.” Editor’s note: Shortly after the story was written, Kratochwill and Mick announced their retirement and the closing of Bright Beginnings on May 25.

Rebecca Flansburg is a proud mom of two who spends her time freelance writing, blogging and being the project manager for the national children’s literacy event Multicultural Children’s Book Day. When not writing, she appreciates being outside, reading and spending time with her kids. You can connect with her on Twitter as @RebeccFlansburg or via her blog 36 her voice | Summer 2017 • Share your voice with us on Facebook





health benefits for nursing moms to immunity protection for newborns, there’s no question breastfeeding has effects that extend far beyond a full tummy. The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends breastfeeding for at least the first year, and the World Health Organization (WHO) recommends two years or more. However, every mom’s journey is as unique as the baby born to her. Having a new baby is hard enough without throwing in the demands and challenges of successful breastfeeding. For some women, one of the biggest hurdles is how they’ll be able to balance going back to work, while still nursing. While workplaces have slowly become more tolerant, and even helpful in providing a quiet, clean place for pumping, the truth is breastfeeding continues to be a challenge for working moms.

5 Breastfeeding Challenges for Working Moms • Separation Anxiety • Pumping • Timing and Breaks • Engorged Breasts • Clean, Quiet Spaces In detail (next page). Like us on Facebook • Summer 2017 | her voice 37

5 Breastfeeding Challenges For Working Moms Not every new mom has the same going-back-to work experience. For some, it means an immediate transition. For others, it could mean a couple of weeks or months off to bond with their new bundle of joy. For the lucky few, it could mean going back to work much later. Regardless of when, most moms will face the same challenges.

1. Separation Anxiety (for moms!)

We all know about separation anxiety for babies and infants, but the truth is, moms get it too. Unfortunately, when anxiety takes hold, it can negatively impact the milk supply – making matters worse.

2. Pumping

This can be a challenge, particularly for new moms. Learning to pump is a whole different animal than nursing and cuddling with your baby. Sometimes, the cold, mechanical nature of it can be hard to overcome and breast milk supply can suffer because of it.

3. Timing and Breaks

In addition to pumping comes all the logistics that go with it. This means setting up new schedules and new norms—finding the time you need to remove yourself to pump can be a challenge.

4. Engorged Breasts For those pumping less frequently than when they nursed, engorged breasts can

become one of the challenges. For Cheri Darden, this was certainly the case, “When I first went back to work I was still nursing. Every day I spent my lunch hour expressing my milk. I would bring my little brown paper bag with the pump in it to the bathroom. Then I would put the bottle in the fridge until I got off of work. It was painful at first because my daughter was used to nursing every hour. My milk overflowed often, as I was there for eight hours. Thank God for those breast pads, as I would have a lot of leakage otherwise. As time went on my milk lessened and became more manageable.”

5. Clean, Quiet

Spaces According to the Department of Labor, Section 7 of the FLSA requires employers to provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express the milk.

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Challenges of Breastfeeding Special Needs Babies As a mom of three, I had nursed my first two children successfully into their first year. I have been lucky enough to work a non-traditional job from home, which has afforded me time to nurse all my kids. However, it has meant getting back to work earlier than those who take a traditional paid maternity leave. With my youngest son, who is now two, nursing was a much bigger challenge. He was born with a cleft lip and cleft palate. While I had the logistics down for how everything would work with a typical newborn, I had to face the prospect of continuous 24/7 pumping, or not nurse him at all. The inability to latch was something he simply would not be able to overcome. He maintained his birth weight of 5 pounds, 6 ounces for a grueling nine weeks before finally moving in the right direction. While he did start putting on weight, the stress of his struggle put a damper on my milk supply.

Breastfeeding Classes For first-time moms and moms who need a refresher on nursing a newborn, Essentia Health offers classes. To search their upcoming classes, check out:

Dr. Kristel Schamber

Carissa Andrews and her son.

In the end, pumping around the clock wasn’t enough and with my doctor’s recommendation, we tried formula supplementation. That’s when the magic really happened for him and eventually he grew by leaps and bounds. I continued to supplement his bottles to almost the year mark, before dropping it completely. For me, this lesson was not only about the idea that every child is unique, but that their needs are as well. So, while knowing breast milk has

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“Choosing to nurse your newborn is always a personal and unique experience.”

Carissa Andrews is a freelance writer, graphic designer and author in the Brainerd lakes area. Her novel, “Pendomus”, is a young adult science-fiction adventure and she’s currently wrapping up the sequel, “Polarities.” You can find out more about Carissa on her website at www.

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myriad advantages, I had to find it within myself to be okay with doing what’s necessary for the health of my baby. Choosing to nurse your newborn is always a personal and unique experience – even for those of us who have done it before. The important thing to remember is that it’s OK to roll with the punches and be adaptable.

9252 Breezy Point Dr, Breezy Point, MN 56472 • 218-562-7158

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pioneer profile

In 1912, to the delight of their many hundreds of adoring fans, Brainerd’s Bachelor Maids ventured into the performing arts in the form of a vaudeville production singing the following: “Happy, happy, scrubbers we -slam bang! -- here we come! Sleeves rolled up and soap suds ready, when we start we make things hum! Not a speck escapes our eyes, and dirt we make it fly; We scrub the windows and the doors, nor at the corners shy. *** We’ve spent lots of time preparing, scrubbing up our sketches new, Dancing maids and songs amusing -- oh-- the work we’ve done for you! And now we’ll scrub some other things, which sadly need our aid; There’s a chance for hope in brush and soap -- if -- she’s a Bachelor Maid! *** Why is it that our Brainerd men are all so beastly slow, In showing us girls a real good time and spending a little dough? We’ll give you a hunch, that this here bunch is in for a time, you know; If your ways you’ll mend, wake up and spend -- ”we’ll meet you after the show!”

Scrub Women’s Chorus (L to R): Louise Beare Ingersoll, Edna Stickney Hoffman, Mae Belle Grewcox, Ethel Parker Campbell, Corna Stickney Lagerquist. Photo courtesy of Crow Wing County Historical Society.

“Scrub Women’s Chorus” and the Bachelor Maids


The Bachelor Maids launched their first performance at the Grand Theater, which seated 300. When the curtain rose at 7:30 p.m., every seat was filled. Many stood in the lobby while outside hundreds more waited to gain admission to the second performance. Cars were parked near the Sisters Clotilde (L) and Onolee McCullough front of the Grand as their owners started the Bachelor Maids. Photo credits: (L) Minnesota Historical Society scrambled for tickets priced at 25 and Crow Wing County Historical Society. cents. The “Scrub Women’s Chorus” had been unanimously requested for presentation as part of the show. Mae Belle Grewcox, Corna Stickney Lagerquist, Nell Fie Alderman Wieland, Caroline Morrison, Ethel Parker Campbell, Edna Stickney Hoffman and Louise Beare Ingersoll acted as the scrub women. One of the women had a small rooster as a hair ornament and the group’s appearance provoked a stream of riotous laughter from the audience. Equipped with buckets and bars of soap, the “Scrub Women’s Chorus” 40 her voice | Summer 2017 • Share your voice with us on Facebook

blue crepe with lace, white feather boa and diamonds; Rosa Koop Murphy, golden brown crepe meteor, mink fur trimmings, diamond lavaliere; Anna Marie Murphy Dunn, black accordion pleated chiffon over black satin, trimmed with oriental bands, large black picture hat with ostrich plumes; Margaret Johnson Hemstead, gray charmeuse with gray spangled overdress, bird of paradise hair ornament; Bess Murphy, lavender satin, chiffon overdress, crystal fringe and crystal head dress; and Emily Murphy Linneman, light blue charmeuse, half bodice of chantilly lace, large black velvet picture hat trimmed with light blue feathers. The Bachelor Maids had come a long way from the day in September 1903 when sisters Onolee and Clotilde McCullough had invited nine of their friends to establish it as a charitable organization. Other charter members were Kitty Walker

Frederick, Inez Jordan, Clara Small Gould, Winifred Smith Allbright, Nell Fie Alderman Wieland, Bess Burgoyne Schmit, Florene Merritt, Edna Stickney Hoffman and Caroline Morrison. During the intervening years, new members were invited to join the original group and from 1903 to 1917, the Maids provided funds for the city’s poor, St. Joseph’s Hospital and the Carnegie Public Library through their theatrical performances and invitational dances. Sources: Brainerd Daily Dispatch 1903-1917 “Oldtimers II: Stories of Our Pioneers in the Cass and Crow Wing Lake Region, Volume II”, Carl A. Zapffe Jr., Echo Publishing and Printing, Incorporated, Pequot Lakes, Minnesota: 1988.

Ann M. Nelson is a researcher, genealogist and writer who has been chronicling the history of Brainerd for over 20 years.

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plopped on their knees, slammed down their buckets and vigorously attacked the floor with soap and water. Among the shower of iridescent soap bubbles the verses rolled out. As the gleeful crowd roared their approval, the chorus demonstrated its originality by singing more verses poking fun at Clyde Parker of the Parker-Topping Foundry, Senator Charles D. Johnson, founder of Johnson’s Pharmacy and other prominent male citizens. Aside from their renown as performing artists, the Bachelor Maids were well-known for organizing very popular invitational dances. As hostesses for the 12th annual Elks’ Ball held at Gardner’s Hall in December 1912, the Maids were also the decorators-in-chief. One can only imagine the fragrance wafting through the air as the happy throng of dancers entered the ballroom which was draped in fresh evergreens extending from the corners and sides to the chandeliers trimmed with white streamers and red bows. Wreaths decorated the walls while baskets of poinsettias and ferns graced the floor. The 10-piece Blue Ribbon orchestra played waltzes, two-steps and quadrilles from the white columned musicians’ stand ornamented with evergreens and potted palms. Ladies were provided with dance programs enclosed in a case of the finest white kid leather and bound with a purple silk cord. The gentlemen’s programs were enclosed in purple kid leather and bound with a white silk cord. Both covers could be used as card cases thereby becoming useful souvenirs of the dance. Several hundred invitations had been issued and it was a merry crowd who turned out in their finest formal wear. A pair of Bachelor Maids provided dazzling descriptions of 95 of the numerous beautiful and colorful gowns worn that evening. Here is a glimpse of what they beheld: Hildegarde von Jasmund Courtney,

17330 State Hwy 371, Brainerd, MN | 218-829-2827 Like us on Facebook • Summer 2017 | her voice 41

Sylvie Gilman (left) and Laurie Fitterer are finance professionals with U.S. Bancorp Investments.


INVESTING Relationships




aurie Fitterer and Sylvie Gilman are heart people, two women who care deeply, who believe in the power of relationships. As a female financial team, they forge connections, serve as powerful advocates and empower clients to realize their dreams.

They pass out hugs, share coffee chats, celebrate the birth of children and grandchildren and go to retirement parties. “Connection is something we never take for granted,” says Sylvie. They are a unique pair: professional and personable, approachable and compassionate. In their careers with U.S. Bancorp Investments, Laurie, senior financial advisor, and Sylvie, client associate, generate positive energy that clients feel as soon as they enter the office. The two entered the financial services industry within a couple years of each other. Sylvie had been in the “people business” with work experiences that included Breezy Point Resort and the Nisswa Chamber of Commerce, when she suffered a mild traumatic brain injury in a serious car accident. After a recovery period of five years, she needed to feel confident about herself and her skills again. Her financial experience

42 her voice | Summer 2017 • Share your voice with us on Facebook

was limited, but the hiring person at Edward Jones wanted someone who knew people in Nisswa. “Pick me,” Sylvie said, and he did. While Sylvie was settling into an office in Nisswa, Laurie was working out of her home, in her basement, with six TV trays. “I am not kidding you,” says Laurie, “ I had the worst bunions because I had door-knocked on like hundreds of homes. I can’t believe I did that. I could never do that again.” When Sylvie and Laurie met before Laurie moved into the office, they knew within moments they were meant to work together. Their energy, philosophy and work styles meshed perfectly and a 13-year partnership began. “We are two women who care,” Sylvie says. After a number of years in Nisswa, where they were extremely active in com-

munity service, they moved to U.S. Bancorp Investments in 2011. Their business foundation is based on the relationships they build with their clients. During initial meetings with prospective clients, the majority of time is spent getting to know and fully understand a client’s situation and history, creating a comfort level before moving forward. “We are deep listeners. I think that trait in and of itself, lets us be very approachable by women investors,” says Laurie. “We are compassionate and we truly care.” Women’s advocacy is tremendously important to the two. They are fervent about helping women to thrive in a trusted relationship. The pair has had so many relationships across a large demographic of women with a wide spectrum of issues, whether it be a gravely ill spouse, whether it be women going through a divorce, whether it be any manner of life events. Some women feel very confident about financial matters and others don’t know how to sign a check. They have immense tools to facilitate the financial planning process. They ask a lot of questions and every situation is different from a planning perspective. Laurie says, “The process spurs thought, and most of all reinforces individual goals of life and financial objectives, as well as prioritization. Having a plan in place can be one of the most assuring aspects in this area of life management, providing a roadmap to achieve one’s goals.” One of the biggest challenges Laurie and Sylvie face is the deteriorating illness and death of dear clients. A woman may come in with her husband when they know he is dying. He will want to make sure she will be taken Continued on page 45...

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Jana Froemming REALTOR®/Agent


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summer directory Her Voice wouldn’t be possible without the following loyal advertisers. Thank you! Accra Care Home Health ......... 48 Arlean’s Drapery .................................11 Belle Cheveux ......................................21 Brainerd Glass .................................. 43 Breezy Point Spa ............................. 39 Crow Wing Power ............................41 Cub Foods .............................................27 Edina Realty............................................2 E.L. Menk................................................ 15 Essentia Health ................................... 5 Gull Lake Glass ................................. 15 Hirshfields ..............................................13 Hytec ..........................................................31 Jana Froemming .............................. 43 Just For Kix........................................... 35 Lakes Area Eyecare ...................... 39 Midwest Family Eye Center......31 Northridge Agency ....................... 35 Salon Couture ................................... 33 Pequot Lakes Supervalu .............19 Schroeders Appliance ..................17 Thrivent Financial.............................21

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Continued from page 43... care of, that everything is arranged, that all is in order. Laurie will reassure him and also reassure the wife that they are going to take care of her, that she needn’t worry about that. The bonds are so close with people sharing their personal lives. Ten percent is business and 90 percent is personal. Sylvie says, “Our main job is to listen. We have to read between the lines because money is such an emotional thing. We have to listen not just to hear words, but to hear what people are really saying from their hearts.” What do Laurie and Sylvie want women to know? Don’t be afraid to reach out. There are so many resources available, professionals who will literally hold your hand, even through the most difficult situations. Be willing to open your arms and accept help. Create your “team.”

Develop a solid grasp of where you want to be in life. Empower yourself. “It is so rewarding to see our clients grow, learn, understand and achieve their goals. We take great pride in, but do not take for granted, the impact and opportunity we have in helping people.”

Carolyn Corbett taught elementary school for 14 years before resigning to sail off into the sunset. Upon her return, she tutored English and writing at Central Lake College. Today, as a freelance writer/editor, Carolyn has over 250 articles published in cruising, parenting and general interest magazines.




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Jennifer Werhan, REALTOR®


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home parties


My first exposure to LulaRoe clothing was a text from my daughter, “Want to go to a LulaRoe party? I think you’d really like these clothes.” I thought I knew home parties -- think ‘Tupperware and Tastefully Simple’-- but I was wrong.


Lining the living room were racks of maxi skirts, dresses and T-shirts with leggings in bright prints arranged neatly by size on the kitchen counter. “If you see something you like,” my daughter said, “grab it. Molly (the fashion consultant) can’t re-order.” In the Brainerd lakes area, Tricia Wikoff is one of about 20 women who sells LulaRoe clothing out of her home, online or at the “pop up boutique party,” like the one I attended. A fashion consultant, Tricia started selling LuLaRoe over a year ago, after first selling her husband on the idea. “He made me think it through; write a business plan,” she explains. With two young children, now age 8 and 10, Tricia stayed home full time, but when the kids entered school she looked around for something to do. After helping a friend with her LuLaRoe business, Tricia found a job that fit. “I wanted to set my own schedule, stay home with sick kids, and be at home in the summer,” says Tricia. LulaRoe provides those options. Tricia’s original commitment involved a $7,000 loan to pay for 350 pieces of clothing, racks, etc. It didn’t take long for her to earn enough to pay off her loan -- but she didn’t. Rather she took the money and reinvested in more clothes, until she had paid in full for 800 pieces. Now she says she has hundreds of customers and is earning good money.

XXS – 3XL (00 24/26) LEGGINGS ONE SIZE 0-12 TALL/CURVY 10-20 KIDS: S/M (2T – 7) • L XL (7-12)

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LulaRoe consultant Tricia Wikoff (left) advises Wendie Johnson on an outfit.

A woman named DeAnne Stidham started LuLaRoe just sewing maxi skirts out of her home. As the business grew, Stidham gradually set up a structure that now includes women from all over the country selling a variety of her clothing products. As a fashion consultant, Tricia gets weekly conference calls, can attend a training weekend and has earned a cruise from the company, based on her sales numbers. Working as a fashion consultant is not for everyone, but women of all ages seem sold on the product. My daughter says she likes the comfort, style and price of the clothing -- and the fact that the line is always changing. And different from a big box store, your clothes won’t be seen all over town. When Wendie Johnson, Baxter, saw Tricia’s racks of clothing she loved the bright colors, picking out and trying on a pair of soft leggings. The softness, explains Tricia, comes from a special combing process, making them unique. Looking for a top, Wendie turned to Tricia for a recommendation. “They (tops and bottoms) don’t have to match, just go together,” says Tricia, sharing a concept new to some of us. When Tricia’s mom first saw the clothes she said, “Those prints are wacky, I don’t know about this.” But LuLaRoe can be addictive. “Now she has a closetful,” says Tricia. Like some of the rest of us. Meg Douglas is a self-proclaimed fan of LuLaRoe leggings and Tricia Wikoff, who also teaches Zumba and Piyo classes at the Brainerd YMCA.

Happy Retirement, Meg! Fourteen years ago, former Brainerd Dispatch advertising director Mary Panzer returned from a newspaper seminar with an idea for a new publication. Mary explained she wanted to start a magazine produced by women, for women and about women. There weren’t similar women’s magazines in our area. The first Her Voice was published in May 2003. Mary was not available to attend one of the first Her Voice editorial meetings with new editor Meg Douglas and she asked me to attend as our department’s assistant advertising director. One of the things that quickly became apparent was Meg’s organizational skills. She outlined in great detail the list of stories and photos prepared for the first edition, which included a list of backup stories. I was impressed with Meg’s efforts because we didn’t often have backup stories for our special sections. I knew Her Voice would be in great shape with Meg as editor. After 14 years and more than 50 issues published, Meg will be retiring as editor of Her Voice. We’re grateful for all of her work and the admirable team of writers and photographers she assembled to create such an educational and entertaining quarterly publication. We will continue to make Her Voice successful and we wish Meg the best in the future.

Pete Mohs Brainerd Dispatch publisher


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Her Voice - Summer 2017  

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