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A THOUSAND WORDS... Our fourth annual photo issue is our most stunning one yet

Get to know the talented

STACY K

GET VULNERABLE WITH

KELSEY SCHWARTZ

It’s playtime at Kellogg’s

LARK TOYS

An Owl we’ve named Einstein. MARCH 2019

The Free Press MEDIA

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Present

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Time to

NOMINATE Your Favorites!

Go to www.mankatofreepress.com and place your nominations for the Best of 2019! Click on the button to register & begin!

The top five nominees from each of the 118 categories will then go on to the Voting that will begin in April. Results will be announced in the July Issue of the Mankato Magazine and in The Free Press in July.

NOMINATIONS WILL BE TAKEN THROUGH MARCH 15! Phone 507-344-6364 • Email advertising@mankatofreepress.com


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for Yourself.

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FEATURE S MARCH 2019 Volume 14, Issue 3

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Get your frames out Every year we hand over a big chunk of the magazine to our readers. From sunsets to bison, the quality of the photos submitted this year was stunning. You’re going to need another cup of coffee for this one.

John Othoudt

ABOUT THE COVER After hours of deliberation, we chose this perfect photo of an owl by Bobby Duehring. We thought it was a perfect representation of southern Minnesota and the great amateur photographers we have here. MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 3


DEPARTMENTS 6 From the Editor 8 Faces & Places 12 This Day in History 13 Avant Guardians Kelsey Schwartz

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14 Beyond the Margin Everything you ever wanted

to know about snow plows

16 Familiar Faces The sobering talent of Stacy K 50 Day Trip Destinations It’s playtime at Kellogg’s Lark Toys

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52 Wine French sparkling wine is not

just Champagne

55 Beer Brewing up a break 56 That’s Life Ginger Vs. Mary Ann 58 Garden Chat Let’s talk about poo

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60 Your Style Applying style theory to

personal relationships

62 Coming Attractions 64 From This Valley Frugal Fashion

Coming in April

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We’ll spend some time with some of southern Minnesota’s artistic icons.


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jzimmerman@mankatofreepress.com MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 5


FROM THE ASSOCIATE EDITOR By Robb Murray MARCH 2019 • VOLUME 14, ISSUE 3 PUBLISHER Steve Jameson EDITOR Joe Spear ASSOCIATE Robb Murray EDITOR CONTRIBUTORS Amanda Dyslin Bert Mattson Diana Rojo-Garcia James Figy Jean Lundquist Jessica Server Leigh Pomeroy Nell Musolf Pete Steiner

PHOTOGRAPHERS Pat Christman Jackson Forderer

PAGE DESIGNER Christina Sankey ADVERTISING Danny Creel SALES Joan Streit Jordan Greer-Friesz Josh Zimmerman Marianne Carlson Theresa Haefner ADVERTISING Barb Wass ASSISTANT ADVERTISING Sue Hammar DESIGNERS Christina Sankey CIRCULATION Justin Niles DIRECTOR

Mankato Magazine is published by The Free Press Media monthly at 418 South Second St., Mankato MN 56001. To subscribe, call 1-800-657-4662 or 507-625-4451. $35.40 for 12 issues. For editorial inquiries, call Robb Murray at 344-6386, or e-mail rmurray@mankatofreepress.com. For advertising, call 344-6364, or e-mail advertising@mankatofreepress.com.

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Mama don’t take my Kodachrome away

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ruth be told, we were a little late getting word out about the photo issue. A year ago, we’d used articles in The Free Press and ads online that gave folks several months to comb through and find their best photos to send in to Mankato Magazine. Photos trickled in at a nice, leisurely pace. Some were good. Some were great. It was manageable and well organized. This year, we gave folks a few weeks. We worried if we’d waited too long, if they simply wouldn’t find time in their busy schedules to squeeze in a few minutes of sifting and submitting. We were wrong. So very, very wrong. Not only did people find the time, but we had just as many submissions as last year. As an added bonus, the submissions themselves have stepped up a notch. The wildlife shots are wilder. The bison shots are meatier. The sunset shots are … sunsettier. It was an amazing collection of images that came cascading into my email inbox. Hundreds of photos. So much organizing! I’m not complaining. As an amatuer photographer, I love to see the great images you’ve all come up. I feel lucky to be the one to collect them all, actually. I love being the one who gets to see them all first before our editorial team pares them down to the best of the best. Our photo issue has always been one of our most popular. The flood of photos that washed in during

the 21-day period we gave people is proof. We’re proud and thrilled to hand over a big chunk of the magazine to our readers and their cameras and smartphones again this year. I say this every year, but … it’s our best photo issue yet! Maybe next year we’ll shrink the submission window to three days instead of three weeks! (JK) Elsewhere in Mankato Magazine, we’ve got a great Q&A with local musician Stacy K. In a region chock full of talented musicians, Stacy K is among our best. Her music is vibrant and catchy. It gets into your soul. You’ll feel better after listening to her. Also, Stacy’s got a little surprise for us. Give it a read to find out. Editor Joe Spear’s column is a must-read this month for anyone who has ever wondered about the mysterious world of snow plowing. Seems it’s come a long way over the years. And like everything else, technology has transformed the job considerably. It’s not just a dude pushing snow around, anymore. It’s a dude in a $200,000, GPS-enabled machine with a dozen levers that can drive itself. Check out Joe’s column to learn more. And in this month’s Your Style column, Jessica Server reminds us that the principles governing good style can be applied to the relationships in your life, including getting rid of stuff. Good advice for us all.

Robb Murray is associate editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at 344-6386 or rmurray@ mankatofreepress.com. Follow him on Twitter @freepressRobb.


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FACES & PLACES: Photos By SPX Sports

Ag Expo

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1. Grant VanKeulen and Jordan Lanoue work at the Agnition Booth. 2. Ziegler displays farm equipment at the Expo. 3. Attendees look over the silent auction items. 4. A large turnout of vendors, researchers and attendees at the Expo. 5. Jon Hunter, from the American Lung Association, speaks with attendees at the booth. 6. A panoramic overview of the Expo floor.

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FACES & PLACES: Photos By SPX Sports

St. Peter Winterfest Snow Day In the Park 1. S’mores were available to roast over the fire. 2. People gather around the fire for warmth. 3. The Frame family enjoy their time at the event, especially the boys who were experiencing their first winter with snow. 4. (Left to right) Maggie, Beau, and Griffin Weideman play hockey together. 5. Friends pose for a photo after finishing their S’mores. 6. Family and friends came out for activities such as ice skating, snowshoeing, and snow painting. 7. Music was provided by radio station “Hot 96.7”.

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FACES & PLACES: Photos By SPX Sports

Mount Kato Family Fun Race

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1. Some kids took skiing lessons. 2. Kids get their tickets at the entrance of Mount Kato. 3. Families trail their tubes behind them after their slide. 4. Families enjoy their time sliding on snow tubes. 5. Lifts took people up the top. 6. People make their way up the long staircase to the top of the snow tube slope.

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FACES & PLACES: Photos By SPX Sports

Anthony Ford Pond Hockey Tournament

1. An overview of the 11th annual Anthony Ford Pond Hockey Tournament. 2. Families watch the rinks in the hard sun. 3. The Danbury Dogs take on the Ice Muskies in the Mites category. 4. Kids show sportsmanship after their games. 5. Players battle for the puck. 6. Some tried to keep hands warm in the cold weather. 7. The Jersey Mikes watch the games.

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THIS DAY IN HISTORY Compiled by Jean Lundquist

, k c u l t o n s ’ It it’s experience!

Feast for school board members They dined at domestic science department last night Saturday, March 17, 1923 At 6 p.m. Friday, all members of the board of education and the home economics teachers were treated to a dinner prepared by students. The point was to address concerns the school board members had expressed about the expense of offering the class. When classes were started in Mankato public schools, they were called “cooking,” and “sewing,” and that is all that was taught in each class. The teachers told the board that courses now included the scientific study of food and its preparation, and more than the actual construction of garments. The menu provided to impress board members included mashed potatoes and gravy, meatloaf, lettuce salad, scalloped corn, celery, rolls, pickles, apple pie and coffee. Four women join Mankato Police Reserves Wednesday, March 1, 1972 In a story written by Free Press Women’s Editor Carol Peterson, four women from a field of 10 were accepted to train as police reserves that year. In addition to their names — Kathryn Raymond, Linda Stenseth, Cheryl Elfrink and Penelope McMurray — the report included descriptions such as “blonde, five foot two, dark eyes, and green eyes.” All were either college graduates or college students. One woman told Peterson she was not a “libber,” and, “To compensate for being a woman, I am offering my education.” A decision had yet to be made on the attire these reserves would wear – skirts or slacks. The women thought they should have a voice in the decision, but Police Chief C.D. Alexander disagreed. “We don’t want to end up with polka dot slacks.”

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The People’s Fair Monday, March 8, 1989 Spring fever was apparently running rampant when a March story touted the 19th annual People’s Fair at the end of May. “You know spring is here when 150 volunteers say it’s time for the People’s Fair. Even the robins and bluebirds check with the People’s Fair committee before they declare springtime.” The writer was looking forward to craft exhibitors under the trees, delectable food and music on the hill. The line-up for the event, musically, included Shangoya, City Mouse, Lamont Cranston, Mary Jane Alm and her band Too Blue, East Side Pharaohs and the Dust Bowl Blues Band, among others. 51 booths at Jaycees’ Farm, Home Show at Armory March 26 - 28 Thursday, March 4, 1954 A first-of-its-kind event was planned by the Junior Chamber of Commerce to showcase the very latest in products and merchandise for home and farm in 1954. The grand plan called for the entire floor of the armory to be filled, according to Jaycee President Marvin Merrill. The show was admission-free, but any person under the age of 18 needed to be accompanied by a parent to enter. Most exhibitors were local companies, including the Mankato Free Press and Mankato Citizen’s Telephone Company. In all, 43 exhibitors provided 51 displays. Items were collected to provide one free prize every 15 minutes during the show. With the convenience of the public in mind, hours were 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, and Sunday afternoon. Attendance was expected at 10,000, and the Jaycees hoped it would be popular enough to become an annual affair.


AVANT GUARDIANS By Leticia Gonzales

Bold and brave Kelsey Schwartz is exploring vulnerability with vibrant colors, diverse models

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or 26-year-old Kelsey Schwartz, sketching and doodling has always been second nature. “I have always been obsessed with art,” said Schwartz. “I actually didn’t start painting until I was 17, which is crazy, since that’s the main thing I do now is work with acrylics. I discovered that medium and fell in love with it.” Originally from Hewitt, a town of less than 300 people, Schwartz said she was afraid of making mistakes before she starting working with acrylics. “I discovered paint and it’s so forgivable, and you can experiment more,” she added. She studied art at Minnesota State University after earning an associate

of arts degree from Central Lakes College in Brainerd. “It really just pushed me out of my comfort zone,” Schwartz said. It was a job at the Coffee Hag that really immersed Schwartz into the arts community in Mankato. Not only was the coffee shop an ideal place to display artists’ work, but she was also able to make a lot of connections. “Honestly, the Coffee Hag kept me here,” she said. “I can’t not make art.” Schwartz’ work has been displayed in a variety of shops around the Mankato area, and she has had juried shows at The 410 Project in Mankato. Her most recent shows were held at the Coffee Hag and the Fillin Station, back-to-back.

“My paintings are really vibrant,” she said. “I like the colors to be really intense. Good paint is really important to me. I like to use hues and just fill the canvas with color. Some stuff is completely done abstract to realistic.” She is currently working on “Nudes in the Home” series. “I love working with the human body,” she expressed. Schwartz relies on references and word of mouth to find models, which hasn’t been difficult, “One of my friends said it was empowering to be vulnerable,” she shared. The series will include torso shots of nine different women, with various backgrounds. “It’s putting the realistic and abstracted body on top of a vibrant colored background,” explained Schwartz. “I don’t want the focus to be where they’re at; moreso on the body.” The process is also very informal. “I have people who model for me and I have them come over and we will talk,” Schwartz said. “They pose anywhere in the home and I take my pictures, and I just paint from that. I like the casualness of that. I like being in the home.” Schwartz wants viewers to see the display as more than an object. “I just get so sick of how our nation sexualizs the human form, and I wish people would see it for the beauty of the body and not just a sexual object,” she said. Her series will feature a variety of body sizes and looks. “I am really trying to get different skin colors in my work, because it’s fun to experiment with and learn how to do that,” added Schwartz. Painting is something that made Schwartz take more risks. “You just have to be completely vulnerable when you make your work,” she said. “There is just no censorship to it. It taught me to be less afraid, more brave, not afraid to make marks and be messy. It went from me being really stiff and afraid, to me just going all out.”

MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 13


BEYOND THE MARGIN By Joe Spear

Road Saviors T

The religion of snowplowing

hey are a metaphor for the road of life. Clearing obstacles, blowing through blizzards and throttling up as adversity approaches. Snowplows. A lifeline. The city of Mankato has 23. Nicollet County has 13. Mankato’s MnDOT district has 83. There’s a spiritual feeling to snowplowing that lies beyond a casual observation. It’s a classic man against nature battle, and Mother Nature is no slouch. Behind every snowplow is a driver, most of whom work long shifts when big snowstorms hit. Blue Earth County snowplow drivers start at 5 a.m. and work 13 to 14 hours a shift because it’s “all hands on deck” when it comes to plowing the county’s 700 miles of roads, according to public works manager Ryan Thilges. MnDOT snowplows weigh 70,000 pounds — more than 20 times the weight of a typical SUV. They have diesel engines with 350 to 450 horsepower. Automatic transmissions. They’re designed to conquer surprising attacks by wind-blown snow fingers grappling the shoulders of county roads. And maybe snowplow drivers weren’t good at algebra, but they were good at noticing nature’s tendencies and learning from that after just one lesson. So the drivers know by the terrain where the fingers will reach out and they’re ready. Because they’ve seen this before. They’ve studied it. They’ve got a bundle of technology to help them study it nowadays. Jed Falgren, MnDOT’s Mankato district maintenance engineer and James Grebenc, MnDOT’s Central Shop Supervisor, Snow and Ice for the whole state are smart people when it comes to plowing snow. They schooled me on the nuances and efficacy of modern snowplow technology. The average MnDOT snowplow has access to precision radar that gives specific weather conditions of where the truck is going to be and then technology makes a recommendation on how much salt or sand to put down and when. I call it the Wayne Gretzky method of snowplowing. Gretzky was the greatest hockey player of all time because he could anticipate where the puck would be. So it is with snowplow drivers. They know where the snow will be. Because even the best radar cannot see freezing rain or mist that may affect road conditions, the driver can input that information into the weather measuring devices to get a better recommendation on materials and other things that matter. And 80 percent of MnDOT snowplows have GPS where you can track where they are online. Another 25 percent have cameras, so you can see the conditions as they are plowing from Pipestone to Grand Marais. The 2019 models will have total GPS coverage and total camera coverage. And we will be the safer for it. The typical MnDOT snowplow costs $170,000 if it’s a 14 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

single axel, and $210,000 if it’s a tandem axel (two sets of back wheels). But this fleet gets the job done as soon as possible so people can get to work and earn money and then spend money. This is why our taxes are higher than Georgia and Mississippi or even Wisconsin. There are 10 variations of plow blades, steel and plastic. There are four joysticks in a typical MnDOT plow that can maneuver the hydraulic lifts for plow blades and sand and salt dispensers. No coffee makers or microwaves yet. Some plow blades are designed for light and fluffy snow to throw it as far as possible. Others are designed for wet, heavy snow for maximum push. These things are decided before many of us awake in the morning. So we should feel good about that. MnDOT plows have sensors to tell them when a wayward motorist is about to run into them from behind. There were 25 accidents of motorists running into MnDOT plows last year. These sensors give the drivers a warning to brace and make sure their coffee doesn’t spill. Then there is the “sacrificial road scraper.” Every plow has a rubber laced with carbide steel or pure steel 2-3 inch blade cover at the bottom that is designed to protect the actual steel plow from corrosion. These pieces of steel/carbide and even ceramic can be worn off in one weekend or one season depending on conditions. This ground out steel is the price we pay for a clear road. And it helps the steelworkers too. Plow drivers get very little credit. People mostly complain that their road is not cleared fast enough, or was full of snow when they drove home from the bar while the drivers were catching up on their sleep. These drivers remain hidden behind the blowing snow and darkness of the 2 a.m. starting time and 2 p.m. quitting time. MnDOT has a plow in the hinterlands of Windom that can save lives. It is equipped with sensors that allow it to be driven without the driver having any visibility. It is the only one in the state of Minnesota and it costs about $285,000. “You can drive it blind,” says Falgren. It can stay within the road stripes by 6 inches. It is only used to take and guide ambulances to locations encompassing 300 miles of roads around Windom. The roads have been programmed into the unit’s GPS system. When there’s an emergency at a farm place in Cottonwood County, the MnDOT snowplow will be guiding the ambulance in white out conditions to save a farmer, maybe a migrant worker, maybe someone you know. And for that, we have the snowplow drivers to thank.

Joe Spear is editor of Mankato Magazine. Contact him at jspear@mankatofreepress.com or 344-6382. Follow on Twitter @jfspear.


MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 15


Familiar Faces

Full of surprises Songwriter, performer Stacy K’s career and life are in a perfect place

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Photos by Pat Christman

Name:

Stacy K

Age: 34 City of residence:

Country living outside of Mankato.

Job title: Musician, songwriter, business owner, music instructor, is “Mom” a job title? Brief work history:

Video production, farm hand, musician with Johnny Holm Band, waitress, janitor work, barista, personal assistant, overnights in a group home, music lessons teacher, musician in cover bands and writing and performing original music.

Education: A good mix of “school of

hard knocks,” many years of firsthand experience and McNally Smith College of Music.

Family: Married to Dain Fisher; mom to daughter Norah Bee and step-children Hazel and Samson.

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tacy K has a lot to feel good about. The singer-songwriter, mother and business owner released two singles last year, “Feels Good” and “Chemical Reaction.” Her business, Kato Music Lesson in Old Town, opened in 2016 and has grown over the years and includes three instructors (Hanna Cesario, Louis Jablowski and Stacy K.) Between the time spent at her business, being a mom and a musician, Stacy also writes a weekly article for MankatoLife.com, “Stacy K’s Old Town Guide.” And most recently, she’ll be starting up a podcast with her husband, Dain Fischer, where they’ll be interviewing Old Town business owners, artists and musicians. By the way, she’s also hosts weekly entertainment during the summer and spring time at The Hub (located in Old Town.) Stacy K is scheduled for a few local shows, which can be found at stacythek.com. Learn a little more about Stacy’s background and future endeavours: MM: When did you start playing and performing music? SK: A long time ago, like way back in grade school. I remember working really hard in the 4th grade to learn “Hotel California” for a local construction company’s holiday party that I was hired as the musical entertainment for. Corn Days, the Church Festival, nursing homes, church … Those were my early day gigs. MANKATO MAGAZINE: For readers that have never listened to your music, how would you describe it? STACY K: I am a songwriter at heart, so all my songs have started on an acoustic guitar or at the piano. However, my recording approach and arrangement style has changed throughout the years which can be heard throughout my discography. Little Glass Houses (2008) is an acoustic EP with a singer-songwriter pop vibe. I was in another band called Blame Someone Else and that album has more of an indie-pop feel, heavy on guitar riffs, lots of harmonies (more in the vibe of Dr.Dog). Swarming with the Frenzy, Swirling with Delight (2013) is a little heavier in content and experimental with instruments like accordion, trumpet, banjo. We recorded the sounds of dropping a big heavy chain for percussive use, so this album rides the wave of experimental-indie-folk-rock perhaps. Hotel Colfax (2015) has a more melancholy feel and definitely much more straightforward, classic approach with recording the band live (think organ, fuzzed out


guitars, piano, acoustic). After Hotel Colfax I released an EP with my country duo called “Mr Dr” (mister doctor) which has a feel of old school country. And most recently I released two singles called “Feels Good” and “Chemical Reaction” which I call “art-popindie-rock.” I really embraced working with samples, some cool bass sounds, and really getting creative with midi and vocal harmonies. The music isn’t totally obscure, but it just doesn’t fit in one label. It would be easy to say “My music is Americana,” sigh, but it has hints of it (mostly on Hotel Colfax)! MM: What’s the difference between performing with a cover band and creating your own music? SK: I can’t name the differences without commenting on some of the similarities. In my opinion, both careers require dedication, preparation, the ability to communicate musically (in some way), professionalism, passion, respect for the songs, the stage, and the crowd, booking, touring, social media, hustle … and I’m probably missing something obvious here. There are also so many differences and I have known some original musicians that never play covers and I have known cover band musicians that don’t play originals. Hey, one always isn’t for the other. My heart has always first and foremost been with songwriting, however. I was on my own by 18 and learned pretty quickly that cover gigs pay rent a lot more efficiently than the original scene (at least until you’re making waves as an original artist) so I started playing in both styles of bands and learned to enjoy both sides because they ARE so different. Cover bands have always pushed and tested my vocal ability. Like learning Aretha Franklin to Janis Joplin to Sia for example. I don’t naturally sing like Aretha, Janis or Sia, but it is really fun to learn how

MM: What should fans expect this year? SK: I plan to release a new single, “Cheap Thrills,” this spring, specific date TBA and I am very close to having four more songs ready to be mastered and released!

to! I could literally write a novel to answer this question and I still would feel like I’m missing something. MM: You just released two singles last year. Tell us about them. SK: “Feels Good” came to me in January during bath time for my daughter and I recorded the first idea on my phone with her splashing in the background. I then demo’d it at home when I put her down for a nap and went into the studio a month later for what people hear today. This song just has a fun, quirky vibe to it. It’s not heavy, it’s not meant to “DIG” in and leave the listener feeling anything but just GOOD — like goofy good. Allowing that weird part of ourselves that makes each of us uniquely who we are. I pulled together some Mankato folks to make the video and released it all in June on the first day of summer! So it was just a nice, refreshing feel-good song for me to not only release but play live too. I n A u g u s t I t h e n re l e a s e d “Chemical Reaction.” I actually wrote and demo’d this song about four years ago but first recorded it the same day I recorded “Feels Good.” This song just came out feeling like a laid back pool party to me, so I called up some friends and hired (a videographer) and a week later we were at Jen True’s pool (thanks Jen) on the most perfect summer day. Most people think the song content is a flirty love song, but a little inside information from the writer: It’s actually about alcohol withdrawal. Crazy, huh?

MM: What are some of your influences when it comes to music? SK: Just about everyone I’ve worked with, for sure. There’s so much local talent and heart, its amazing and I highly respect that. I admire regional acts that are doing the thing like Haley, Bad Bad Hats, Lizzo, Your Smith to National Acts like Nikki Lane, Rayland Baxter, Jenny Lewis, and Lukas Nelson. Then we go to the stratosphere and I dig Talking Heads, Dolly Parton, Django Reinhardt, Aretha Franklin, Fleetwood Mac, CCR, Tom Petty ... I’m also influenced by the local but national touring musicians like Jeremy Ylvisaker, Thomas Nordland, and Erik Koskinen. MM: What inspired you to open your music lessons business? SK: By 2016 I had been teaching music for about 10 years and I now almost view those years like an apprenticeship. When I moved to Mankato, a space in Old Town became available and I took it as an opportunity to offer a service that I’m very passionate and knowledgeable about, so I went for it! I was also just ready to do and be my own thing. MM: What is something that people would be surprised to learn about you? SK: Dain and I are expecting our second child in August! How’s that for a pregnancy announcement? SURPRISE! Compiled by Diana Rojo-Garcia.

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Kim Schmidt


A THOUSAND WORDS … It’s photo issue time again, and you’re going to be amazed By Robb Murray

T

hese days, the photos Peter Johnson takes are calm and peaceful. A hazy sun perched just over the horizon, behind a farm silo … a group of Native Americans riding through the country on a chilly, gray morning … a group of monks posing outside a meditation center. Calm, peaceful stuff. There was a time, though, when the photos he took were something different entirely. Johnson used to be a photographer in the Navy. So it may have been calm, perhaps. But not peaceful. “I would do all of the investigative work, so if something went wrong with airplane or ships, I’d take photographs,” Johnson said. “Then there was the grin and grabs.” Today, Johnson calls it “a nascent hobby,” and says taking great pictures today just keeps getting easier. “It’s great having a camera in my pocket all the time,” he said of his smartphone. Johnson is like many of the people who submitted photos Mankato Magazine’s annual photo issue. Yes, we do get our share of amateur photographers who are obviously shooting with expensive equipment. But the vast majority of our submissions come to us from people who were in the right place at the right time and had the presence of mind to pull out their phone. And let’s face it: the current state of smartphone photography is leaps and bounds beyond what it was just a few years ago. Today, the latest smartphones come with advanced optics and wide-angle and macro capabilities that would have been unheard of — or prohibitively expensive — until recently. Barb Traxler, an annual submitter to Mankato Magazine’s photo issue, also shot her photos with her phone. “It’s just a hobby that I do with my phone,” she said. For Traxler, having a phone/camera is great for capturing her true passion: nature.

“You can’t recreate nature,” she said. Traxler’s submitted images came from the Minnesota Landscape Arboretum, a prime place for both photographers and nature lovers. Each time she goes there, she says, she spots something breathtaking. “Often times it’s even hard to describe,” she said. “The pictures speak a thousand words.” This year’s submissions were plentiful and stunning. Sunsets, a common theme every year, were in abundance. Pink sunsets, orange sunsets, sunsets over wheat fields, sunsets through mason jars, sunsets peaking between a tree and a barn, sunsets over a lake. People in the Mankato area love their sunsets. One thing we did NOT see as much this year is bison. While we did get a few, it was nothing like the year the Department of Natural Resources dropped the bison onto the grounds at Minneopa. That year brought in a flood of bison. Bison closeups, bison in groups, solo bison, brand new fluffy bison, bison covered in Minnesota snow. We also didn’t see much of the Minneopa Falls. One year, so many people spotted the heart-shaped formation in the falls ice that we thought we were being punk’d! Turns out it was just that a lot of people thought it was extraordinary. So did we. But while there weren’t many bison or waterfalls, there was more wildlife this year than usual, especially birds. Hummingbirds, cardinals, juncos, owls — y’all were big on birds this year. And we loved it. Finally, there seemed to be a fixation with glasses. Wine glasses, martini glasses, highball glasses. Why though? Anyway, we want to sincerely thank everyone for submitting photos this year. It was a great crop of pictures, and we loved seeing them all. We’re grateful to have readers who so willingly engage with us and our efforts to include the public in our mission here. MM MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 19


Laurie Gresch 20 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Gary Anderson


Cynthia Sidlauskas

Terry Thomas

Dayton Bintz

Peter Johnson

Nancy Haag

John Othoudt

MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 21


Christine Harris 22 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Barb Traxler

Kelly Jaeger


Jen Youngerberg

John Pletcher

Cassandrea Sassenberg

Mary Jo Tischler MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 23


Christy Foss 24 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Becky Carlberg

Sarah Denn


Carla Nunez Deballon

Charlene Bradley

Dianne Wagner

Rachel Olmanson

Nicholas Escobar MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 25


Rick Pepper

Ginny Hughes Berg

Christy Foss

Sam Csizmadia 26 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


Ashley Hauffe

Brian Frederick

Terri Michels

Donald Borstad MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 27


Carla Mills 28 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Sam Csizmadia

Shabbir Khambaty


Charlie Berg

Mary Kay Ash

John Pletcher

Casey Ek

Jill Kalz MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 29


John Schrestha 30 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Luke Vetter

Rick Pepper


David Cordes

Fred Friedrichs

Nancy Haag

Daniel Auel MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 31


32 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


Micah Rentschler MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 33


James Meagher

John Schrestha

Bonnie Sellner 34 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Jen Youngerberg


James Folden

Kahlen Benning

Ann Judkins

Amber Pietan MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 35


Shabbir Khambaty 36 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


Sarah Denn

James Folden

Grace Anne Lukvik

Ann Judkins MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 37


Missy Manderfeld 38 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Gary Anderson


Laurie Gresch

Eric Annexstad

Chelsey Nelson

Christine Harris

Sandra Sontag

Erin Guentzel MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 39


Melissa Reintjes 40 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Peter Johnson


Rachel Olmanson

Ashley Hauffe

Grace Anne Lukvik

Leslie Curry MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 41


Charlene Bradley

Karen Barnett

Breanna Denn 42 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Leslie Curry


Carla Mills

Mike Buckley

Vicki Kennedy

Mary Zehnder MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 43


Becky Carlberg

Charlie Berg 44 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


Samantha Beckman

Karen Nichols

Chris Freyberg

Eric Annexstad MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 45


Dayton Bintz

Tim Pulis 46 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


Brian Frederick

Nicolas Goebel

Warren Michaels

Michelle Hargrave MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 47


REFLECTIONS By Pat Christman

W

inter has us in its icy grip once again. The snow is piling up, the sun doesn’t seem to be doing much in the sky and icicles hang from buildings like an animal’s claws. There is good news for those sick of winter’s grip: Just a few short weeks until spring. MM

48 • MARCH MARCH2019 2019 •• MANKATO MAGAZINE MANKATO MAGAZINE


MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 49


DAY TRIP DESTINATIONS: LARK Toys By James Figy

The bookstore at LARK Toys offers many opportunities to read and learn. Photo courtesy of LARK Toys

Bringing people together is child’s play LARK Toys provides unique items, memorable experiences for families

L

ARK Toys has earned top accolades from USA Today, Reader’s Digest, WCCO and other outlets. But for the owners, providing one-of-a-kind gifts and attractions for families isn’t about winning awards — it’s about making a difference in people’s lives. The Kellogg, Minnesota store boasts many fun experiences, including a hand-carved carousel, 18-hole mini golf course and sweet treats. It also offers a wide range of carefully curated wooden toys, books and other items for children and adults. “We choose each item according to our tastes and values and mission,” said Kathy Gray, who operates the store with her husband, Ron, and their daughter and 50 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

son-in-law, Miranda and Scott Gray-Burlingame. “We rarely stock items with batteries. Rather, we search for toys that awaken imaginations and allow for open-ended play. We value reading and learning, identifying each child’s gifts and longings and developing them.” To accomplish this, LARK stocks a range of games, puzzles, science kits and art supplies, as well as wooden toys made there. Visitors can see into the workshop to watch this in real time. During a trip to the toy store, visitors can also expect to visit the antique toy museum, enjoy some of the play areas and ride the hand-carved carousel. “It runs every half hour and costs $2 a ride unless you


are under four or 90-plus (years old), in which case it is free,” Gray said, adding that there’s a wall of photos showing many nonagenarians taking a spin on the carousel. LARK also has a full-service cafe with options for sandwiches, salads and more, and for dessert, there are 16 flavors of ice cream from Chocolate Shoppe Ice Cream (the Madison, WI, company that also supplies the Mankato favorite Mom & Pop’s). In addition, homemade fudge is sold by the quarter pound in numerous flavors, such as peanut butter explosion, and there is a large selection of saltwater taffy, jellybeans and other candies. Although the toy store provides many fun products, treats and activities, it started out on a much smaller scale. According to Gray, the business began in the 1980s when teachers Donn and Sarah Kreofsky began to make pull toys at home for their sons. “The endeavor grew, so the Kreofskys built a workshop along Highway 61 to fulfill the wholesale demand for their wooden toys, eventually selling to thousands of stores across the U.S.,” she said. “People expressed interest in buying them locally, so they opened a small store next to their workshop.” The Kreofskys continued to grow LARK for years, recruiting local artists to carve and paint the carousel as well as a carousel restoration expert to make it turn. However, when their children grew up and decided to pursue other endeavors, they decided to sell the business. The Grays came to own the toy store through totally different circumstances. Kathy and Ron had lived in the Twin Cities and raised their three children there, but a near tragedy made them reconsider what they wanted. “In 2002, during the birth of her first child, Miranda suffered a rare birth emergency, an Amniotic Fluid Embolism, that nearly took her life,” Gray said. “She and her daughter did survive, and this ‘on the brink’ experience shaped the worldview, aspirations, and expectations of the family.” The Grays and Gray-Burlingames realized they wanted to work together on a new project in a new place. They remembered fondly the landscape and community of southeastern Minnesota, which they’d experienced during Miranda’s time at Winona State University.

Top: Children can watch wooden toys being made through a window into the LARK Toys workshop. Bottom: The toy store has a number of family activities, such as an 18-hole mini-golf course. They hoped to find the perfect venture in the area that would fit their goals and price range. “We were not wealthy, so when we first heard about LARK Toys, we imagined it as a fabulous, but unlikely, opportunity,” Gray said. “Still, we reached out to the Kreofskys and learned that they were hoping to find a family, rather than an impersonal corporation, to carry on their dream.” Since the Grays took ownership in 2008, LARK has helped them come together to offer something meaningful for others. The store continues to do this through its vast offerings — and the proof is in the map. On Jan. 1 every year, the Grays hang a map of the world and set out pins for visitors to mark where they call home.

“Each year that we have owned the store, we have visitors from every continent except Antarctica,” Gray said. “...We’re not sure why people come from all corners of the planet, but it is our pleasure and delight to welcome them, to connect and to affirm that we share in common a love for our children, a desire for a peaceful world and hope.”

IF YOU GO: LARK TOYS

Where: 63604 170th Ave., Kellogg, MN 55945 When: 9:30am – 5:00pm, every day Admission: FREE

Visit www.larktoys.com for more information MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 51


Wine & Beer

wines

By Leigh Pomeroy

French sparkling wine is not just Champagne

southern mn style

T

he term “champagne” has become synonymous with sparkling wine, but as I’ve often reminded readers, there is only one true Champagne, and it comes from the Champagne region in eastern France. Everything else is sparkling wine, although each country, and sometimes region, has its own name for it. For example, in Italy it’s called spumante and in Spain cava. NonChampagne sparkling wine in France is generally called crémant, although sometimes the terms mousseux and blanquette are used, depending upon the appellation. When we were in Burgundy this past July, we had the pleasure of visiting a small crémant producer named Parigot and were served its lovely sparkling wines by its fifthgeneration owner, the charming, multi-lingual Greg Georger. Parigot’s entire production is Crémant de Bourgogne. Three are whites of various blends from the traditional Burgundian white grapes, chardonnay and aligoté, and the red pinot noir. It also produces a rosé and rouge (red) from pinot noir. But it also offers a tête de cuvée, L’Or de Parigot, which is a rosé with flakes of pure gold floating in the fine-bubbled liquid. Greg notes on Parigot’s website that bars of 24-carat gold are crushed and hammered into sheets, which are then reduced to tiny flakes that undergo a special treatment to ensure they are edible. And yes, you drink the gold with the wine, although what you do with gold afterwards is your business. All of Greg’s wines are made in the méthode traditionelle (also known as méthode champenoise) process, whereby the secondary yeast fermentation takes place in the bottle. The longer the wine stays on the yeast, the finer the bubbles and the longer the bubbles last after the wine is opened. Most

52 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

Crémants de Bourgogne are made in the same way, which is identical to that of Champagne. One big difference between the two wines is price: Crémants de Bourgogne are much more reasonable, assuming you can find them. For example, at Parigot they sold for as little as 14 euros for a bottle (about $16), with the L’Or de Parigot selling for 35 euros (about $41). In the U.S., where they are sold in major markets, their price begins in the mid-$20 range. Other French crémants come from Alsace, the Loire, Bordeaux, Limoux in the LanguedocRoussillon of southern France, Savoie (Savoy) and the Jura in eastern France near Switzerland, and the Rhône, including SaintPéray and Die (pronounced “dee”). It’s important to note that not all of these are made in the méthode traditionelle. Most of the less expensive French sparkling wines, whether they’re labeled as crémant or something else, are made by the Charmat process, named after the Frenchman who invented it. Instead of the secondary fermentation taking place in the bottle, it is carried out in large, pressurized tanks and then bottled under pressure. On our recent road trip to the West Coast we stopped in Lincoln, Nebraska, and ate at the Oven East, one of a three-restaurant chain that features great Indian food and an incredible wine list. There, as well as sharing a more-than-ample thali sampler plate ($24), I was able to sample a lively, dry and slightly earthy glass of Crémant du Jura for only $10. If you’re ever through Lincoln or Omaha, you must visit an Oven! Or if you really want to gaze at a wine list that includes bottles only Nebraska native Warren Buffet could afford (though he prefers Diet Coke), check out the Oven Cellar beneath the Oven Haymarket restaurant in downtown

Lincoln. There is a wonderful world of French sparkling wines beyond Champagne, with some delightful Crémant de Limoux selling for less than $20. Try one!

And now for the local scene

I have been unfortunately lax in covering our local wineries. That said, I’ve recently received an update from Morgan Creek Vineyards co-owner Paula Marti about an experiment using Woodford Reserve-sourced bourbon barrels for aging their Puck’s Pride. When the wine completes its fermentation and appropriate aging, the barrels are passed on to Schell’s, where brewmaster Jace Marti transfers his Stag Series brews to the barrels. Now that’s recycling: from bourbon to wine to beer! In addition, Morgan Creek has been working toward a biodynamic emphasis in the vineyard for the last five years, with co-owner Georg and sons Adam and Ben attending last November’s North American Biodynamic Conference in Portland. Paula suggests wine lovers explore the Southern Minnesota Northern Iowa Wine Trail (smnniawinetrail.com), featuring all of Mankato’s local wineries and co-sponsored by KEYC TV and Minuteman Press.

Salud!

Leigh Pomeroy is a Mankato-based writer and wine lover.


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BEER

By Bert Mattson

Breaking the moveable feast T

he birds are headed back, and students will soon be headed south. This, um, academic tradition, traces its roots to the 1930s, back to a Colgate University swimming coach who decided to take his team to Fort Lauderdale to train at the newly opened Olympic pool. It became a thing, which, a couple of decades later, was captured in a Time Magazine article under the headline, “Education: Beer and the Beach.” A year later Hollywood waded in with the film “Where the Boys Are,” a coming-of-age story about a group of four Midwestern co-eds who’d headed off to Fort Lauderdale on break, and a novel penned by none other than the guy who wrote The Shootist -John Wayne’s final film. Extra credit for guessing in which of the two the following line was delivered: “I won’t be wronged, I won’t be insulted, I won’t be laid-a-hand on.” Spring break is e v i d e n t l y w h a t ’s begotten by granting students time off to celebrate that venerable old moveable feast: Easter. Anyway, the point here is that Spring Break has become this big thing, for better or worse, and … well … beer! There’s a ton of quality taprooms in South Florida — I’m told at least a dozen impressive ones in Broward County alone — should one set their sights on that region, or Fort Lauderdale i n p a r t i c u l a r. Crawling them, in itself, could be the

makings of an entire story. Though I did live in South Florida — and was a working chef there for a while, and still enjoy visiting annually and catching up with old pirate friends — I’ve only done about a half dozen of these small breweries. Full disclosure, I tend to avoid the more heavily travelled areas during this season. That said, my wife discovered Tampa’s Cigar City Brewing while she was down on business some years back, and Jai Alai became our particular pleasure whenever we visited. Soon after, we were pleasantly surprised to see Minnesota fall into their distribution sites. Jai Alai India Pale Ale is a smash: orange and melon with moments of pine on the nose. Flavor follows the nose with the addition of drupe, grapefruit and tangerine. All wrapped up with a light, bready backbone and well-behaved bitterness. The last time I travelled with intent for spring break, I aimed for the mountains. Spring skiing. One day I hope to hit the Breckenridge Beer Festival, which happens soon. Children and age have rendered me far less mercenary in my ambitions, but I can daydream with the best. Fort Collins’ Odell Brewing Company’s Myrcenary touches on both altitude and equator. A blend of hops selected to emphasize myrcene, an element of essential oil, contributes a tropical and piney foundation. Juicy. And floral. A brown sugar, crusty bread backbone, render what I’d perhaps daringly describe as balance. Should you also feel that travelling during this time frame is for the birds, I’ll look out for you while cruising the aisles in search of Surly’s imminent (?) release of Staycation Tropical Milkshake IPA in cans …

Bert Mattson is a chef and writer based in St. Paul. He is the manager of the iconic Mickey’s Diner. bertsbackburner.com

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THAT’S LIFE By Nell Musolf

Good Girls Just Want to be Bad I

don’t spend a lot of time thinking about politics or political correctness or anything else remotely relevant to today’s world. Why get depressed over things I can’t do anything about? I prefer to spend hours, often days, pondering other things, things that are less stressful to think about and just as — if not more — provocative. For instance, lately I’ve been wondering why men seem to universally prefer Mary Ann over Ginger when it comes to the Great Gilligan’s Island Popularity Contest. I’m not sure why it surprises me since Mary Ann was just as pretty as Ginger, had just as good a figure and was obviously much lower maintenance. Still, I’m always a little shocked when I hear a guy saying Mary Ann was the one who floated his boat while Ginger was much more of a meh. Ginger was pure glam, flirted with every man she met and wore evening gowns or tight leopard printed sundresses, much sexier outfits than Mary Ann’s usual short shorts and gingham checked tops. So what gives with Mary Ann being the eternal Sweetheart of Sigma Chi 50 years after “Gilligan’s Island” was cancelled? Which brings me to part two of my completely nonearth shattering pondering: if most men like good girls better than bad girls, wouldn’t they be surprised to learn that most girls would rather be bad girls instead of good? Furthermore, wouldn’t they be surprised if they knew that 56 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

the reason why most girls don’t opt for the bad girl route is because they are completely chicken and every chicken in the world knows it’s easier to be good and boring and ultimately safe than bad and wild and end up with an open-ended invitation to be on Dr. Phil? But the desire to be at least a little naughty never really goes away. Ask any woman which Golden Girl she’d like to be and the majority will automatically select Blanche, the one who put on her makeup with a trowel, had the confidence of a Kentucky Derby winner and more boyfriends than Dorothy, Rose and Sophia combined. Blanche never worried about what people thought about her and she was firmly convinced every man she met was — or soon would be — in love with her before their first date was over and she was almost always right. Blanche did what every good girl secretly wants to do, namely any damn thing she pleased. Blanche knew life was short and she enjoyed hers to the hilt. There is a huge fly in the ointment of my good girl’s really want to be bad theory. That would be the plot of “Grease” where Bad Boy Danny loved Good Girl Sandy but not enough to commit himself to her. That all changed when Sandy turned to the Wild Side and became a Bad Girl, complete with black leather pants, big hair and plenty of eyeliner. After her transformation Danny never


N A L had a chance. Which tells me the bottom line is guys like good girls who have the potential to be bad, and good girls want to be bad girls with the option of returning to their good girl status at any given moment, and everyone goes through life wishing they’d been born into a sitcom instead of, say, New Jersey. No one ever said life was going to be fair. Or come with a built-in laugh track. Nell Musolf is a mom and freelance writer from Mankato. She blogs at: nellmusolf.com

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GARDEN CHAT By Jean Lundquist

Beware of the P-word I

took some training this past winter, with the intention of having the best, healthiest garden possible. I learned a lot, but the most important thing I learned is to wash my hands. Yes, really. Another thing I learned is if you are picking green beans (or anything else) that a bird (or anything else) has pooped on, toss it out. As an aside – I have never heard the word “poop” so many times in so many forms in one day as I did during the training. Most of the blame for the food hazard outbreaks are due to animals, both wild and domesticated, but not all. So wash your hands! The training was in response to federal legislation called the Food Safety Modernization Act and is required for produce growers above a certain level of sales. I don’t sell fruits or veggies, but I am interested in food safety. After the recall of all romaine lettuce last year, I decided to grow my salad in the basement under the lights. We got enough greens and lettuce to get a salad almost every other day. Until the garden produces a larger crop of greens than my basement garden, I’m back to buying salads for now. 58 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

But my greens are still growing in the basement, in case of another recall/shortage. nnnn After a winter that seems especially long to me, it’s finally time to enjoy my spring fever rather than resent it, and time to start little seeds in little cups. True, I got a reprieve from the winter blues with my salad in November, but this month it’s the real deal for starting seeds. This month contains the Ides of March, my traditional start date for seeds in the house. As I was looking at my seed catalogs and getting ideas for new things to try, and seeds for the traditional things I plant, it occurred to me that I should take inventory of the seeds I already have. I was astonished at all the seeds I already have. Between store-bought seeds and seeds I save from my heirloom and open-pollinated veggies, there were only a few things I needed to buy. Altogether, I have 75 different seed types to either start inside, or put directly into the garden! That’s about 15 varieties of tomatoes, and at least that


many varieties of peppers. And I tossed several packets of seeds that I deemed too old to germinate. Generally: the smaller the seed, the shorter lifespan to germinate. For example, the chive seeds I planted with my salad were five years old, and did not spring to life. They are very small, but I had hoped … I tossed the rest of them. They were seeds harvested from my perennial chive plant in my herb garden. I haven’t collected any for several years, as the plants are perennial, but I thought chives would be good fresh in my fresh winter salad, so I tried. We also tried growing mushrooms in a box this year. Actually, the box was a Christmas present for Larry, but I was hoping he’d share his bounty. We (he) picked exactly three mushrooms. The company sent another box, so we’re hopeful. Our winter salads were mushroom-less, however. I love starting seeds. I get the varieties I want, I know how they have been fertilized and cared for and how many times I washed my hands while working with the plants and the produce. I get the perfect garden every year! And I get to share seedlings with friends. It’s true, I use only a fraction of the seeds in any given packet, but it’s still cost-effective for me compared to buying the plants from a grower. It does require some equipment, but I think I’ve covered those costs with all the years I’ve had my equipment.

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If you are hoping to start seeds, remember these few tips: 1. Use soilless planting medium. 2. Use a spray bottle to keep the pots damp while waiting for the little green heads to pop up. 3. Use a full-spectrum light bulb for your seeds and seedlings. 4. Pay attention to the temperatures in your house. 5. WASH YOUR HANDS.

Jean Lundquist is a Master Gardener who lives near Good Thunder. gardenchatkato@gmail.com

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Mankato | Amboy | Vernon Center | cimankato.com MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 59


YOUR STYLE By Jessica Server

Let it Go?

I

Let It Go!

’ve mentioned that I strive (and often fail) at minimalism. While it’s relatively easy to tout the value of culling clothes, it can be much harder to see the benefit of letting go of life’s “bigger things”: people, pets, memories. As I write this, our beloved dog is losing her fight with canine cancer. It’s undeniably terrible. And it has shown me just how graceful I am at letting go, which is to say: not very. I cling — and cling hard — to people even when they no longer serve me, to animals even when they are suffering, to memories and sentimentality, even when they hold me back. Personal style is bigger than what we wear; who and what we surround ourselves with also helps define our place in the world. Lately, I’ve been having to rethink a few adult friendships, only to realize that I don’t actually know how to end, alter, or redefine them. Break-up culture doesn’t include a manual for this. It only instructs us on what to do when romantic partnerships end. When it comes to navigating changes in other adult relationships, it’s difficult to evaluate when and how to sever ties, let alone how to do so gracefully. As children, if someone was being mean to us on the playground, adults would simply tell us not to play with that “friend” anymore; find someone else to play with. If only it were that easy now. But … why can’t it be? When our closets or kitchens are cluttered and dysfunctional, it’s somehow clear: this stuff must go. It’s easy to put on a sweater and see that it no longer fits. People are inherently more complicated. There’s history. There’s emotion. There’s politeness. Marie Kondo’s freakishly successful book The LifeChanging Magic of Tidying Up (and now subsequent Netflix show) has created a cult of people who evaluate their belongings on whether or not they “spark joy,” but how simple is that metric to apply to non-material aspects of life? It’s not easy to let go, though perhaps it’s equally essential for people and experiences to “spark joy” and make you feel your best, just like zipping up your favorite pair of jeans. I wonder if the whole closet analogy can’t be belabored just a bit longer; if I can’t apply the same tools that I use when evaluating my clothing to this bigger concept. So here are some wardrobe-inspired questions to consider:

60 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE

1) Does it fit?

The most objective place to start. Like clothes, we outgrow friendships as our values and life circumstances change. Asking if someone still “fits” you seems like a good a place to start the process.

2) Do you feel great wearing it?

I used to have a lot of clothes in my closet that I liked … theoretically. But in practice, wearing them just didn’t feel good. Some things appear better than they function. Some evenings with friends invigorate you, some make you feel off.

3) Do you choose it often?

Some items sit in our closets for months, even years, without ever getting used, despite our apparent love for them. If you find yourself putting off calling a friend to catch up or canceling plans often, maybe there’s something deeper going on.

4) Does it seem too precious to actually wear?

By now, I know that if something needs to be ironed, dry-cleaned, or if it’s white, it doesn’t belong in my closet. I’ve learned to be OK with these constraints. Some friends accept us just as we are, and some require


us to tiptoe around issues, ideas, conversations, and our authentic selves. If something is too delicate to withstand your daily wear and tear or your way of life, how sustainable is it?

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5) Does it “spark joy?”

When in doubt, apply the KonMari method, Kondo’s way of mindfully de-cluttering. According to her website, one should, “Keep only those things that speak to the heart, and discard items that no longer spark joy. Thank them for their service — then let them go.” Some relationships require the “it’s not you, it’s me,” conversation in order to end. Some don’t. As this is a style column — not a relationship one — I can’t tell you how to break up with that friend that always leaves you feeling a little less than glowing. But I can encourage you to evaluate friendships with as much scrutiny as your wardrobe. To remember that the company we keep helps define our personal style. That quality — of fabric and friends — is more important than quantity. And that, as far as I can tell, having space for new people and new experiences in life is better than stuffing your days to the brim with things that simply don’t fit anymore.

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We’re not just your bank Jessica Server is a writer who teaches at Minnesota State University. She lives in Mankato with her husband.

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LocaLLy & famiLy owned since 1974 MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 61

Loca


YOU DON’T NEED LUCK...YOU JUST NEED AUSTIN’S

COMING ATTRACTIONS: MARCH

1

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Gustavus Jazz Jamboree featuring Grammy nominated jazz violinist, Sara Caswell 7 p.m. — Jussi Bjorling Recital Hall — Gustavus Adolphus — free — gustavus.edu.

1

Meatsauce and Common Man “Winter Wonderland Comedy Tour 7 p.m. — Kato Ballroom — 200 Chestnut St. — Mankato — $20 advance or $25 at the door, $35 VIP tickets — katoballroom.com.

2

Building Bridges Conference 9 a.m.-7:30 p.m. — Gustavus Adolphus College — Christ Chapel, — 800 W. College Ave. — St. Peter — $10 general admission; free for students K-12 and college — gustavustickets.com.

2

Schell’s Bock Fest 11 a.m.-4:30 p.m. — August Schell Brewing Company — 1860 Schell Road — New Ulm — $10 — 21+ event — schellsbrewery.com/ events/bock-fest.

12-15

Good Thunder Reading Series presents Layli Long Soldier 10 a.m. workshop March 12-15, Emy Frentz Gallery, 523 S. Second St.; 3 p.m. craft talk March 14, First Congregational UCC, 140 Stadium Court; 7:30 p.m. reading March 14, Centennial Student Union room 245, MSU — free and open to public — gt.mnsu.edu.

14

Savor, a gourmet food and wine experience 6-8 p.m. — Chankaska Creek Ranch and Winery — 1170 E. Pearl St. — Kasota — $100 per person — 389-7446.

23

Luck of the Irish 7k and KidsK Fun Run 9 a.m. — 1801 W. Broadway — St. Peter — Adult 7K Registration $25-40 or KidsK and 1/2K Race Registration $12-15 — athlinks.com/event/145151.

23

Civil War Symposium 9 a.m.-5 p.m. — Sibley Park Pavilion — Mankato — $25 adults and $15 student (age 17 and under), must register online by no later than March 18 — boyinblue.org.

23

Verizon Center presents: Cody Jinks 6 p.m. — 1 Civic Center Plaza — Mankato — codyjinks.com. 62 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


23

United Way Men’s Event, featuring John Landsteiner 5-9 p.m. — Kato Ballroom — 200 Chestnut St. — Mankato — $500 for table of 8; $65 per person — open to all men ages 21 and older — mankatounitedway.org/mensevent.

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MSU theatre and dance present: “Mothers and Sons” 7:30 p.m. — Andreas Theatre — MSU — Mankato — $10 — mnsu.edu/theatre.

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Verizon Center presents Breaking Benjamin, Skillet, Underoath and Fight the Fury, 6:30 p.m. — 1 Civic Center Plaza — Mankato — $59.50, $45 — verizoncentermn.com.

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31

Music on the Hill presents Sprint Trout 2 p.m. — Our Lady of Good Counsel — 170 Good Counsel Drive — Mankato — $17 premium, $12 general admission — mankatosymphony.com

31

Live music: Albert Cummings, 7 p.m. — Hooligan’s — 1400 Madison Ave. — Mankato — $15 or $18 — albertcummings.com/tour-dates.

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SchmidtMankato.com MANKATO MAGAZINE • MARCH 2019 • 63


FROM THIS VALLEY By Pete Steiner

Frugal Fashion L

et me preface today’s offering by reminding you that my middle name is Lloyd, and I am acknowledging that I am one-quarter Welsh. As has been pointed out frequently by friends and relatives, ol’ Pete tends to live up to the Welsh reputation for being, shall we say, frugal? nnnn I had just come in from clearing the latest snowfall. I unbundled myself, taking off cap and gloves and jacket. It hit me, as I was unzipping and slipping out of my Sorel boots: what a fabulous purchase they had been! I think I paid $85 for them 20 years ago. That’s a bit more than $4 a year to keep my feet toasty and dry in the harshest Minnesota winter. Any bottom line guy would admit: That is cost-effective. Now, my Sorels are not very stylish; they are functional. Just for fun, I wondered what it might cost to be both functional and stylish. I Googled Gucci and found a pair of boots, handsome as well as sturdy for, get ready, $1,250! Not in this guy’s budget. It can get expensive to look sharp. Thus, as you may know, “fast fashion” is all the rage these days: trendy folks look for cheap clothing produced by mass marketers, stuff that looks like what they may have just seen on the runways during Spring or Fall Fashion Week. Doesn’t have to say Versace or Dior on the label, just look kinda like that. But cost a whole lot less. Wear it a couple times, then take it to the thrift shop. I do have several shirts I like that might be called fast fashion: you can find faults in some of the sewing, and the buttons fall off after a few wearings. Pete the Welshman actually learned how to thread a needle so he can sew those buttons back on and get a few more wearings out of a shirt that did NOT cost a couple hundred bucks — like those hipster shirts worn by Cam on “Modern Family.”

On the other hand, I also have three Pendleton wool shirts. All three were gifts. Not cheap, but also not in “Cam-shirt” range. Thing is, the newest of these shirts is five years old, while one is 40 years old. Wore that one a few months back, and someone said, “Nice shirt.” And it is. Cost-effective, too, the Welshman insists on pointing out: about $2 dollars a year to wear it. I wonder how many $20 T-shirts I’ve had to rag out since I got that $80 Pendleton! nnnn Quality and, especially, durability are characteristics that don’t seem to rank high in our consumerist society. I’m no economist, but I am guessing that, if the economy tried to cater to people like me, lots of folks making shirts and shoes for third-world wages would be out of work. Disposability is key to keeping those dollars turning over. nnnn It was actually coffee that led me to a most valuable lesson about cheap versus priceless. I have brewed my own coffee each morning for about 40 years. I drink about four six-ounce cups a day, much of that at work. (I had to switch to home-brewed; radio station coffee is like flavored acid, and I believed I could feel it rotting out my stomach.) In the early years, I would bring my home brew to work in a cheap, glass-lined thermos. Rushing into the station in the wee hours, several times I accidentally dropped the glass-lined thermos bottles. Not only would I need a new thermos, my home brew was now swirling with glass shards. With the nearest coffee shop at least a 20-minute round trip to get the needed caffeine, I was forced to drink the flavored acid. I finally had had it with that routine. I coughed up the then-large sum of maybe $25 and got an Aladdin Stanley steel-lined thermos! That, dear friend, may be the best purchase I ever made. Though the handle has been re-attached with improvised metal fasteners, and though there’s a couple of dings on the exterior where, yes, it’s been dropped more than once, I still use that same incredible thermos to this day! nnnn Sorels, Pendleton, Aladdin Stanley. Fast fashion’s not their game. Obviously, they have made quality pay. And they prove that cheap does not necessarily equal “bargain.” They’ve saved me so much through the years, I’m happy to give them a quality endorsement.

Peter Steiner is host of “Talk of the Town” weekdays at 1:05 p.m. on KTOE. 64 • MARCH 2019 • MANKATO MAGAZINE


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