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a Magazine for FUN women! November/December 2021






HOLIDAY Fashions

Spotlight: Madison Platt Meet Madison Platt, a Medical Laboratory Scientist at Alomere Health. Having grown up in Alexandria, Madison Platt was happy to return home to build a career. Attending South Dakota State University in 2013, helped her identify “Lab Technician” as a profession suited to her talents and disposition—and that resonated with Madison, “I have always wanted a career that helps others.” Further into her degree, she was able to get an internship sponsored by the Alomere Health Foundation. The experience of working in the lab convinced her that she had chosen the right career.

Med/Surg Floor, Surgery Center, The Birth Place, and all of the clinics—there is always a lot of variety.” Madison identifies four characteristics that are essential to her job: “A good attitude, adaptability to stressful situations, good communication skills, and the willingness to try new things and pitch in and help. Oftentimes, you are baptised by fire and you have to learn as you go.”

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After graduation, Madison’s first job was at a large health system in St. Cloud, Minnesota. But after one and a half years, she and her soon-to-be-husband, Josh, desired to live in a smaller town. She found and applied for the newly opened position at Alomere as the Medical Lab Scientist. “Coming from a bigger facility, I was really excited to get back to a small town feel. Alomere has the quality of care found in a large city, with all of the benefits of living in a small community.” “I’ve been at Alomere for two and a half years now, I’m feel like I am always learning new things. At Alomere we serve the Emergency Department, Intensive Care Units,

It’s better here. Alomere Health • Alexandria Clinic • Osakis Clinic • Lakes E.N.T. • Heartland Orthopedic Specialists 2 Chicz November/December 2021


November/December 2021

Holiday time

It’s the winter and holiday season and Chicz is here to help you get ready! We’ve collected information tht we hope will inspire and entertain you. We’ve compiled a fun list of things to do as a family this winter, as well as some unusual wintertime activities that you might not have heard of. Andy’s Choice writer Andy Mellgren has some hints on how to celebrate when the weather gets colder, and Lowell Anderson explains how to embrace the education struggle in The Learning Life. Al Edenloff has an interesting twist on nachos, as well as some beer and wine suggestions, and we’ve included some squash recipes that will complement your Thanksgiving menu. Have you heard of mitten trees? We dug up some information on how the that and International Mitten Day were created as well as some wonderful ways to celebrate and donate warmth to those in need. There’s a great margarita recipe perfect for Christmas and we’ve got the whole family covered with a variety of hot chocolate recipes. Karen Tolkkinen explains climate change in Finite Planet and Celeste Edenloff’s Real Chicz of Douglas County feature highlights Grace Lambert and her inspiring volunteerism. These and so much more fill the pages of this issue of Chicz and we hope you find something to suit you!




Inside this issue Finite Planet. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9 The Learning Life. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10 Andy’s Choice. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 23 Puzzles and Games . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 28 HOLIDAY FASHION TRENDS


Food and drink





Moose munch popcorn . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 4 Try this Greek twist on nachos. . . . . . . . . . . . 8 White Christmas margarita. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15 Honey oat no-knead artisan bread. . . . . . . 18 Squash: a delicious side dish for Thanksgiving. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22 Make mine hot chocolate. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

Fun winter activities you probably haven’t tried . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 14 Stay healthy over the holidays . . . . . . . . . . . 16


Understanding inspiration. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19



Your writers

Make your own peppermint playdough. . . 13

Struggling with holiday gift ideas? . . . . . . 20 International Mitten Day . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 24


Trendy holiday accessories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12 Chicz contributing writers. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 30

Lori Mork, Chicz editor

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Real Chicz of Douglas County


November/December 2021 Chicz 3

Moose Munch Chocolate Caramel Popcorn


hether you make this delicious snack for a party or bag it up to give as gifts, this chocolate caramel popcorn is sure to be a hit with everyone! Change it up by adding marshmallows, nuts or candy bits – whatever your favorite treats might be.


INGREDIENTS: 26 cups popcorn 1 cup butter 2 cups light brown sugar (packed) 1/2 cup light corn syrup 1/2 tsp. salt 1 cup chocolate chips

DIRECTIONS: Line 2 large cookie sheets with waxed paper and set aside. Combine butter, brown sugar, corn syrup and salt in a saucepan. Melt over medium heat, stirring continuously.

Bring to a full boil; boil for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Pour over popcorn and stir to coat well. Spread over 2 cookie sheets. Melt chocolate chips in the microwave for 40 seconds. Stir and then continue to heat 20 seconds at a time, stirring after each time until completely melted. Using a spoon, drizzle the chocolate over the popcorn. Let cool completely and then break into chunks.

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Winter Bucket List for families

Make some special memories with your family this winter by spending time together. Here are some fun ideas to create a connection between family members of all ages. Feel free to add your own ideas! Build a snowman (or snow family) Take a winter nature hike Make a bird feeder to hang outside Make snow ice cream Make paper snowflakes for the windows Work on a puzzle Celebrate Chinese New Year Make a snow fort Hide in a blanket fort Go tobogganing or sledding Have a snowball fight Do spray-painting in the snow Shovel a neighbour’s driveway Play a new board game Make frozen bubbles in the backyard Make hot chocolate and try different flavor toppings

Go bowling Try snowshoeing Make snow angels Go ice skating Make snowflake playdough Make homemade cards Take a sleigh-ride Have a family movie night in pajamas Bake snowflake shaped cookies Go to a hockey game Do a random act of kindness Visit the library and pick out new books Read stories by the fire Go for a drive to look at holiday lights





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Pledging her hands to Lambert enjoys volunteering, helping out with annual Thanksgiving meal

By Celeste Edenloff Grace Lambert has always had a need to serve whatever community she is living in. Lambert and her husband, Larry, have lived in Alexandria full time since 2015 but have spent their summers in the area for several years. Now retired, Lambert was a registered nurse for more than 30 years. The couple have two dogs, four cats and “whatever other stray” needs a place to live. Her need to serve, she said, started at an early age when she joined 4-H. Head, heart, hands and health are what made up the four H’s and they are the organization’s four values. Part of the pledge says that 4-H members will pledge their hands to larger

service and that is what Lambert lives by. She not only enjoys being with people, but helping them, too. In her previous community in Illinois, she was on the board of directors for the YMCA, was a volunteer for the Relay for Life fundraiser to fight cancer and was also very active in her church and helped out with the fall meal every year. Now that she’s living in Alexandria, Lambert said she volunteers for the Elder Network and she was a captain for a Habitat For Humanity Women’s Build. When it comes to volunteering and helping out in her community, Lambert said her mother, Catherine Klassen, was a “huge role model” for her. She said her mom, who has passed away, was always helping out at church. Three years ago, the Lamberts started volunteering at St. Mary’s Catholic Church, where they are members, for the annual Thanksgiving Day dinner. Lambert is also on the liturgy committee, as well as the hospitality committee at the church. But how she started volunteering for the dinner is because of a friend, Florence Wieneke.

If you’re going to do it, do it well. You have to have a passion for it. GRACE LAMBERT

Alexandria volunteer “I’m holding her fully accountable,” she said, laughing. She explained that she met Wieneke through the Alexandria Newcomers group and that when Wieneke’s board position in that group was up, Wieneke reached out to Lambert. “It’s hard to say no to Florence,” she said with a big smile.

Betty and Joe Roers, volunteers, (left) are in charge of the kitchen at the St. Mary’s Thanksgiving Day dinner. Area residents (above) enjoy a Thanksgiving Day meal at St. Mary’s Catholic Church each year. In a typical year, the church serves about 825 meals. Kevin Richmond (right) volunteers as the chef at the Thanksgiving Day dinner put on by St. Mary’s Catholic Church every year. Contributed photos.

6 Chicz November/December 2021

Then, when Wieneke was stepping down in her role as the volunteer coordinator for the Thanksgiving Day dinner, she turned once again to Lambert. “Without hesitation, I accepted the position,” she said. Lambert now works with all the various churches in the area, coordinating the volunteers for the Thanksgiving Day dinner, which she said is a community dinner and non-denominational. “The whole focus of the meal is for the community to come together regardless of religious affiliation,” she said. Lambert said she works with approximately 150-200 volunteers and will assign people to their positions, not only for that day, but for days leading up to the event. “We also have an amazing committee,” she said. “Each member has a job and no one

has to worry if something is going to get done. Everyone is assigned a role and then we’ll get together and compare notes. It wouldn’t happen without everyone – the committee members and the volunteers – working together.” During a typical, non-pandemic year, Lambert said, about 825 meals are served during the dinners, including carryout meals. “We have probably more than 150 volunteers and more than 425 hours served during a typical year,” said Lambert. In 2020, during the COVID19 pandemic, the Thanksgiving Day meal was still held, she said, but it was strictly all carryout meals. The church served about 650 meals last year. “We had an assembly going for the meals and it was just amazing how fast it went,” she said. Also, she said, in a typi-

A group of volunteers pose for a picture during the annual Thanksgiving Day meal at St. Mary’s Catholic Church. There are usually between 150-200 volunteers each year for the non-denominational event. Contributed photo.

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Volunteers take a break before serving up the annual Thanksgiving Day meal at St. Mary’s Catholic Church in Alexandria. Contributed photo. cal year, they serve up about 32 turkeys, 27 cans of green beans, 30 cans of yams and about 112 pies. The meal is usually served from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., but the carryout meals are always boxed up before the meals start. She said there are usually about 60-70 drivers that take the meals for the deliveries. And she said there is no charge for the meal, but that they do accept free-will offerings. The Thanksgiving Day dinner, she added, is probably one of the only times there are sometimes too many volunteers. “All we have to do is put a shout out and people volunteer,” she said. “And it’s so fun to see that we will often get the same volunteers year after year and that they always want to help with the same

thing they did the previous year.” Being on the committee and volunteering for the Thanksgiving Day dinner is very enjoyable for Lambert, who shared some advice for those looking to start volunteering. She said you have to first evaluate why you’re doing it. Don’t just do it to do it. “If you’re going to do it, do it well,” she said. “You have to have a passion for it.” Not all volunteer efforts need to be big, she added. Small is good, too, she said, noting that the simple act of checking on a neighbor is a wonderful thing to do. And instead of complaining about things in your community, she suggested, “be the change.” “Just do it. Do something,” she said.

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November/December 2021 Chicz


Try this

GREEK TWIST And here are some wine and beer picks By Al Edenloff Who doesn’t like the creamy, cheezy, meltable, crunchy goodness of nachos? It’s become a staple while watching football games. And some are even calling it the new comfort food for getting

on nachos

through those chilly fall and winter months. November 6 has even been designated as National Nachos Day. But why not try a twist the next time you’re craving a heaping plate of nachos? Go Greek by ditching the chips and using pita bread cut into triangles. Toast the pita in the oven for about 5 minutes until they’re lightly browned.

with a glass of Greek wine. Some fairly popular white wine varieties are Assyrtiko, Moschofilero (think Pinot Grigio) or Savatiano. Red wines to try: Agiogitiko (similar to a Cabernet Sauvignon), Xinomavro (full-bodied, highly tannic) or Limniona (kind of like Pinot Noir). And if you are a traditionalist nacho fan and want to stick to the basics, go with the classic beef nachos with a glass of Zinfandel or Merlot. Beer, of course, is another great pairing for nachos. Crack open a pale ale or an IPA and enter nacho Nirvana.

Doing the right thing even when no one is watching.








Meanwhile, brown a pound of lean ground beef and a pound of lamb with some minced onion and garlic, and add salt, oregano and some Greek seasoning. Mix in some tzatziki sauce (you can usually find it in the deli section or make-your-own by Googling it) and put the mixture on top of the toasted triangles. Top it with mozzarella cheese – or try feta cheese if you can accept the fact it won’t be as melty – and then add some diced cucumbers, sliced cherry tomatoes and black or kalamata olives. And since this is a wine column, after all, try the nachos

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so go deer hunting Last of six columns looking at ways to live more sustainably on our beautiful planet. By Karen Tolkkinen If you grew up in Minnesota, do you remember summers from your childhood when smoke from Canadian forest fires choked Minnesota air? I don’t, and I’ve asked others who grew up here and they don’t recall that either. Now, it seems like every summer there’s a stretch of smoky air ruining otherwise perfectly lovely days, and climate change is to blame, according to forest fire researcher Mike Flannigan, quoted in the Climate Atlas of Canada as saying that “the future is smoky.” The Climate Atlas, run by the University of Winnipeg, further quotes Flannigan as saying that climate change will worsen the three major factors that influence wildfire: dry fuel, frequent lightning strikes and dry, windy weather that fans the flames. Smoky air is just one of the consequences we are seeing from climate change in Minnesota. I have to admit

that not all consequences are unpleasant. What gardener doesn’t appreciate a longer growing season, and what child wouldn’t prefer not to wear long johns to school? But the fact is, climate change is unsettling the entire globe, and some social observers predict that cool states like Minnesota will take climate refugees from coastal states. Duluth, in particular, built to handle a greater population than it ever had, has been named a possible climate refuge, along with Buffalo, New York. Whether the smoky summertime skies of recent years will dampen that enthusiasm, I don’t know. Climate change was on my mind when I moved back to Minnesota from the Gulf Coast in 2005. I didn’t move here because of it -- I just wanted to come home -- but it did cross my mind that someday in the future, Minnesota would be a safer place than southern Alabama. Do we really want Minnesota overrun with climate refugees? Do we really want to breathe in smoke every summer from Canadian wildfires?

If not, we really need to take action. Some say that the greatest step we can take to minimize climate change is to adopt a vegetarian diet. I don’t see that happening in the U.S. anytime soon, but we can eat less beef, for instance and more chicken and fish. Beef requires a lot of land, not just pasture but hayground, and cattle emit methane, which is a greenhouse gas. A surprisingly climate-friendly meat is venison -- because the deer are wild, anyway, and lack predators since there aren’t as many wolves. So changing your diet is a biggie – bigger, some say, than even buying an electric car. But I think the biggest thing we can do for the planet is to accept that the climate is changing because of human activity – and that we are each responsible for that, and can take steps to reduce our impact. This is an urgent issue. This is not something that is happening generations down the road, or that can be laughed away. This is happening already. Every summer, it’s in the air we breathe.

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November/December 2021 Chicz


Embrace the

STRUGGLE By Lowell Anderson

We all have the same problem when it comes to learning: We want it to be easy. We like learning to feel effortless, like someone else already did all the work for us and all we have to do is read or review it, like all we need to do is absorb it like a sponge. Although it’s certainly possible to learn that way, the best learning always comes through hard work. If we have to struggle to find the information, understand it and relate it to what we already know, it will have much more impact and really become a part of us. If learning is easy, it probably isn’t really effective. It’s more likely to be just a passive review or a half-hearted

attempt to acquire a skill or knowledge. So, when we’re struggling to learn something, rather than becoming discouraged, we should be encouraged that we are making progress. By renewing your commitment, and sticking with it even when it’s hard, you’ll eventually learn something valuable and meaningful to you. The idea of learning being hard work also applies to reviewing things you’ve already learned. The standard method of review tends to be reading or repeating something over and over to try to memorize it, but that usually only results in short term memories that are soon lost. At the very best, this is an inefficient use of learning time.

10 Chicz November/December 2021

The Learning Life Instead, research has shown that we can create longer-lasting memories by waiting until we are just starting to forget something, and then struggling to retrieve that memory. It is that struggle to successfully remember that seems to make it more permanent in our brains. This method is called the spaced repetition system or SPR. Of course, the key to using this system is knowing how long to wait before trying to remember again. If you wait too long, you’ll have to go back to the beginning. If you don’t wait long enough, you are learning ineffectively and possibly wasting time.

Luckily, there are several types of software that can do this for us (usually revolving around some type of flashcards). However, we can also figure this out for ourselves using experimentation or trial and error. If we have to struggle a little to successfully remember, then we’ve waited the right amount of time and are creating a permanent memory. Just be aware that the amount of time may vary with the subject, the type of information or skill, and your experience. We all have the same goal: To learn in as little time as possible and retain it for as long as possible. To do that takes some hard work. Don’t try to avoid it.

November/December 2021 Chicz


Women’s fashion trends for the Whether you’re planning to host a quiet Christmas at home or attend lavish holiday parties, you probably want to look your best. Here are a few outfit ideas to help you celebrate the season in style.

holidays KNITWEAR. Knitwear is on trend and has evolved beyond mere button-downs and sweater vests. In fact, knitted skirts, short dresses and camisoles were all over the runway this year.

BODYCON. Bodycon jumpsuits are skin-tight and perfect for fashion-forward ladies who aren’t afraid of the cold. Pair a bold print with sky-high stiletto heels if you want to turn heads. DIAMOND PATTERNS. Diamond motif fabrics are everywhere this year. Look for this chic pattern on elegant and flowing dresses in a variety of colors. LILAC COLOR. Lilac formal wear is no longer automatically associated with spring. This year, dare to wear a jacket, dress or skirt in this soft hue to your New Year’s Eve shindig. FAKE IT. Faux fur is an elegant choice for animal-loving fashionistas. You can now create the look you’ve always wanted, as an increasing number of


holiday accessories

If you want to accessorize your Christmas or New Year’s Eve outfit, here are a few trendy pieces that will add character to your winter look. • A pair of white boots • A pair of jeweled ankle boots • A pair of chunky clip-on earrings • A waist belt • A pair of silver shoes

12 Chicz November/December 2021

designers have released realistic faux fur pieces. To put together an eye-catching holiday outfit, look for these and other stylish items at your local women’s clothing stores.

• A pair of fur-trimmed mules • A paperclip link chain necklace • A large pendant on a thin chain • A purse with a gold chain shoulder strap • A rectangular evening clutch To find unique accessories that will turn heads at your next holiday celebration, visit the stores in your area.

Make your own

Peppermint Playdough This is a great seasonal playdough for your children or grandchildren, scented with peppermint. You can also change it up for any season – cinnamon with orange food coloring in the fall, lemon with yellow food coloring in the summer or even mint with light green food coloring in the spring. INGREDIENTS: 2 cups flour 2 cups water 1/2 cup salt 2 Tbsp. vegetable oil 4 tsp. cream of tartar Optional: 1/2 bottle peppermint extract or 6-8 drops of peppermint essential oil 2-3 drops glycerin 3-4 tsp. finely ground glitter Food coloring, if desired

DIRECTIONS: Mix all dry ingredients together, then add all wet ingredients. Stir until well blended. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until a ball forms. Transfer hot play dough carefully to a floured surface. As the dough cools, knead until smooth. When cooled, store in a ziplock bag or airtight container.

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Fun winter activities

Snowy weather lends itself well to a variety of energizing outdoor activities. If you want to try something new this year, here are four fun, but somewhat unusual, suggestions.


Winter kayaking. If you enjoy exploring local lakes and rivers in summer, there’s no need to put your kayak away when the weather gets cold. Just make sure you wear the right gear to keep you warm on the water and stave off hypothermia in case your boat capsizes. It’s also highly recommended that you take lessons beforehand and head out with others to ensure a safe and fun paddle.


Skijoring. Named after a Norwegian word meaning “ski driving,” this thrilling activity consists of being pulled by a team of dogs or horses while on skis. Although you can set the pace based on your experience, you’ll

you probably haven’t tried

need good balance and core strength to remain upright. Skijoring is also a great spectator sport as competitions spring up across North America, complete with jumps, slalom gates and speed races.


Skishoeing. This hybrid activity combines the mobility of skiing with the potential for exploration that snowshoeing provides. Since skishoes are much shorter and wider than traditional skis, they offer more traction on snowy ascents and make it easier to move through forested areas. However, they also allow you to travel faster than you would with snowshoes since you can glide along flat terrain and down slopes.


Snowkiting. Also known as kite skiing, this extreme sport is similar to kite surfing. It involves using a large kite to propel yourself across snowy terrain while strapped to skis or a snowboard. You can glide uphill, downhill or along a flat surface, and in the right wind conditions, you might catch some serious air. Be sure to sign up for lessons to safely learn the proper techniques. If you want to try these winter activities, sign up for lessons in your area and find out if you can rent or purchase secondhand equipment from a local sporting goods store.

ICE FISHING: tips for a successful day

Ice fishing is a great way to relieve stress, reconnect with nature and enjoy your own company or that of your fishing buddies. Whether you’re ready to go or still waiting for the ice to thicken, here are a few tips that will help guarantee you have a good experience.

CHECK THE REGULATIONS Before you head out, make sure you have the necessary permits and that you’re allowed to fish in the intended area. You also need to be familiar with the catch and possession limits for various species. Having this information will allow you to avoid unpleasant surprises and ensure that your activities are legal.

fishing in a shack or simply out on the ice. Mother Nature can be unpredictable, and without the right gear, you may have to turn back before you make your first catch. CHECK YOUR EQUIPMENT Many parks and lodges offer allinclusive ice fishing packages. In this case, all you need to bring are your warm clothes and plenty of enthusiasm. However, if you have your own equipment, you’ll want to assess its condition before you head out. Visit hunting and fishing shops in your area if any of your gear is damaged or needs to be replaced.

Following these tips will ensure CHECK THE CONDITIONS that once you drill your holes, you’ll Take into consideration the be able to relax, unwind and fully weather and ice conditions enjoy the ice fishing experience. before you decide if you’ll be 14 Chicz November/December 2021

Margarita White Christmas

Combining the flavors of cream of coconut and fresh lime juice gives this winter margarita a signature taste that is smooth and creamy – perfect for the holiday season. WHITE CHRISTMAS MARGARITA INGREDIENTS: lime wedge around the rim of 2 oz. silver tequila your glasses, then dip in sugar 1 oz. triple sec or Gran Marnier mix. Fill glasses with ice. 2 oz. cream of coconut Add tequila, triple sec, cream 1 lime (juiced) of coconut and lime juice to Ice cocktail shaker filled with ice Club soda (for topping) and shake well. Strain into Garnish prepared glass. Top with club Cranberries soda and garnish with cranLime slices berries, lime slices and roseRosemary sprigs mary sprigs. Sugar lime rim (optional) OPTIONAL: Zest of 1 lime Add a splash of white cran2 Tbsp. sugar berry juice for a little more Pinch of kosher salt flavor. You can also use cinINSTRUCTIONS: namon sugar in place of lime Combine lime zest, sugar sugar for the rim. and salt on shallow plate. Run

November/December 2021 Chicz


Stay healthy over the


It can be challenging to make healthy choices over the holiday season given that so many celebrations and gatherings revolve around food. Here are five tips to help you eat moderately and stay healthy over the holidays.

1 2 3

Load your plate with veggies. Pile vegetables, fruits and green salads onto your plate. These foods are low in calories, high in fiber and will keep you satiated. Don’t worry, you don’t have to forgo the turkey or any of the side dishes; just be mindful of your portion sizes.

Eat slowly. It takes about 20 minutes for your brain to register fullness once you start eating. Therefore, to avoid overindulging, try to wait five or 10 minutes before refilling your plate. By doing so, you may realize you’re already full. Watch what you drink. Both non-alcoholic and alcoholic drinks can add additional calories, sodium and sugar to your holiday meal. Consequently, try having a glass of water or seltzer in between the eggnog, cocktails and hot chocolate.

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Be active. Staying active can help make up for eating more than usual over the holidays. It can also help reduce stress and improve your sleep. One good way to keep moving is to encourage your friends and family members to go for a walk after your meal. Partaking in winter sports, such as skiing and snowshoeing, is also a great way to refresh your mind and body.


Take care of yourself. To stay healthy over the holidays, remember to regularly wash your hands, cough into your elbow and stay at home if you feel sick. Don’t overextend yourself and give yourself enough time to rest in between parties.

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Honey Oat No-Knead

Artisan Bread By Lori Mork

I’ve always been intimidated by the thought of making yeast bread. It always seemed like too many things could go wrong and I was just too apprehensive to give it a try. Recently, though, I came across several recipes for no-knead bread that is baked in a dutch oven, so I decided to step out of my comfort zone and try for myself. This recipe calls for a covered oven-safe Dutch oven. I have one by Le Creuset which is enamel coated cast iron. I started out with a basic 4-ingredient loaf and was surprised at how well it came out. It was soft and moist on the inside with a crispy crust. With that success, I moved on to a honey oat bread that again had a crispy crust and a moist interior, this time with the rich oat flavor balanced by a touch of honey. It tastes great toasted with butter! Using the basic recipe, you can change this bread up by adding any special touches you might like – cheese, garlic, olives, nuts or sundried tomatoes – whatever your heart desires!

HONEY OAT NO-KNEAD BREAD INGREDIENTS: 3-3/4 cups all purpose flour 1 cup oats 2-1/4 tsp. active dry yeast instant or rapid rise yeast 1-1/2 teaspoons salt 2 Tbsp. honey 2 cups warm water just above room temperature Parchment paper Extra flour for shaping the loaf

DIRECTIONS: Add flour and oats to a large bowl, stirring together with a wooden spoon. The bowl needs to be large enough for the dough to double in size. Measure yeast and add to one side of the bowl; measure salt and add to the other side. Stir the yeast into the flour on its side of the bowl and then stir salt into the flour on its side of the bowl. This will keep the salt from mixing directly into the yeast and ruining it. Now combine the whole mixture by stirring it together. Add honey to water, making sure the water not too warm or too cold; otherwise it can kill the yeast. Stir to combine, then stir into flour mixture

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until all the flour is moistened. The dough will be sticky, which is normal. Just make sure the ingredients are well combined. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and place in a warm, draft-free place, letting it rise for about 1-1/2 hours. After the dough has risen, pre-heat oven to 425 degrees, placing your oven-safe Dutch oven with the lid on it in the cold oven. If your Dutch oven is black on the inside, use an oven temperature of 400 degrees. Let it heat for approximately 30 minutes while your dough has a second rise. Place a piece of parchment paper on the counter and dust with flour. Rub flour on your hands and use them to scrape the dough from your bowl onto the parchment. Gather it together in your hands as best as you can. Form it into a circular loaf. Don’t worry if

it’s not perfect; that gives it a rustic look. Try not to handle it too much. After shaping, sprinkle some flour and oats over the top and loosely cover with a clean kitchen towel. Let rise for about 30 minutes. Carefully remove preheated pot from oven and use the parchment to transfer the dough to the pot, leaving the parchment under the dough. Cover with a lid and bake for 30 minutes. Don’t open the oven during this time. The lid helps the bread develop a crispy crust. After 30 minutes, remove the lid and continue to bake for another 10 minutes. Remove Dutch oven from oven and move bread to a wire rack to cool. Let the bread cool completely before cutting or it could cause the inside to get doughy or rubbery.

Bread dough after the first rise in the bowl (left). Dough on the parchment before the second rise (center) and after the second rise (right).

Understanding inspiration By Shannon Swenson

Inspiration is a curious thing. It’s been described as exalted and divine. It’s also part of ordinary life. It’s something that comes to you without any effort on your part, a kind of mental stimulation. It’s also something that you can influence with your actions. BENEFITS OF INSPIRATION Change your behavior. Research shows that adults who experience higher amounts of inspiration tend to have more compelling goals and make more progress in realizing them. Increase your engagement. Inspiration transforms your to-do list from things you have to do into things you want to do. Enjoy greater happiness. Imagine being excited about Mondays and doing laundry.

Inspiration wakes you up to the beauty of daily life.

Honor your needs. Manage stress and take refreshing breaks before you feel fatigued.

HOW TO FEEL MORE INSPIRED Build your self-esteem. A healthy self-image is essential. Accept and appreciate yourself for who you are.

Observe role models. Surround yourself with friends and colleagues who feel passionate about what they do.

Think positive. Focus on the things you can control. Take a break from TV news if it’s making you feel anxious.

Continue learning. Read books and listen to podcasts about a wide range of subjects.

Cultivate gratitude. Being thankful is powerful. Keep a journal to remind you of your blessings. Let others know that they make a difference in your life.

Try new things. Exploring unfamiliar territory helps you to overcome fears and think more flexibly.

Be spontaneous. Shake up your routines maybe by packing a picnic lunch or building a fort with your kids.

Make art. Work on your hobbies or start a new craft project. Visit art supply stores and read magazines for ideas. Practice patience. Dramatic flashes and profound insights can be few and far

between. Remember that gradual developments can also pave the way to success. Take action. On the other hand, you may speed up the process by taking a first step while you’re waiting for inspiration to strike. Limit competition. While there are many sources of inspiration in life, comparing yourself to others may backfire. Some studies show that less competitive personalities experience more inspiration. Enjoy your work and learn from experience, instead of worrying about impressing others. Open up more possibilities in your life. Being inspired will help you to accomplish great things and have more fun along the way.

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Gift ideas for minimalists Struggling with A SERVICE OR ACTIVITY Offering to do housework, babysit or cook a meal is a great way to show you care. Tickets to a live show or a local event are gifts that won’t take up any space. A MONTHLY SUBSCRIPTION Consider a subscription to an online music or television service or a digital publication that’s in line with their interests. Some companies also

offer monthly subscription boxes that contain things like snacks, alcohol and body care products. Since these products are consumable, they’ll only take up space temporarily. A PRACTICAL ITEM You may want to consider a gift that’s useful in some way, especially if you know what they need. For example, a backpack, reusable straw or reusable hygiene products are all suitable options. Make sure to choose quality products that’ll stand the test of time.

Gift ideas for collectors A DISPLAY UNIT. Opt for a model with adjustable shelves. You may also want to look for a case with glass doors to keep dust away.

A COLLECTIBLE. You can gift an item to add to their collection, possibly even a rare item they can’t afford.

holiday gift ideas? Here are some options for that friend or family member who is hard to buy for

Finding the right gift for a particular friend or family member can be stressful, especially during the holiday season. Here are a few ideas that might inspire you this Christmas.

Gift ideas for globetrotters

EVERYDAY LIVING Get something they might need abroad, such as an international plug adaptor, a charging station with several USB ports, a multi-tool or waterproof bag for laundry.

LUGGAGE Practical items like a luggage scale or vacuum-seal

bags for compressing clothing. TRAVEL ESSENTIALS Handy products like a portable charger, e-reader, camera, collapsible water bottle or foldable backpack are great ideas. High-quality earbuds or earphones are another perfect item.

Gift ideas for foodies

LIGHTS. Purchase spotlights that can be mounted under the shelves or overtop the display unit or ones with REUSABLE ACCESSOdimmable options. RIES. Reusable coffee filters, produce bags, pastry bags, AN OUTING. Buy a ticket muffin tins or other items that to a local show or convention will help foodies enjoy and or take them to a specialty preserve their kitchen crestore they’ve never visited to ations. browse the goods. COOKING CLASSES. Online or in-person, a cooking class is a great way to taste new dishes and learn an array of culinary techniques.

themed subscription box. Or give a basket of fresh produce and local foods to spark their creativity. ARTISANAL PRODUCTS. Curate a custom gift basket that includes regional delicacies such as hot sauces, cheeses, wines and oils.

FOOD SUBSCRIPTIONS. For a coffee, candy or chocolate connoisseur, consider a

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to serve this holiday season Do you want to offer your guests a selection of mouth-watering desserts? Or perhaps you want to serve up a different treat at each holiday event? In either case, here’s some inspiration:

1. Mashed potato donuts 2. Butter cookies with red and green sprinkles 3. Ice cream yule log 4. Fruit cups with whipped cream 5. Brown sugar pie 6. Salted caramel pretzel bark 7. Candy cane fudge 8. Gingerbread trifle 9. Chocolate mousse 10. Poor man’s pudding

11. Shortbread cookies 12. Maple cupcakes with buttercream frosting 13. Eggnog cheesecake 14. Cranberry pecan pie 15. Chocolate rum truffles Keep in mind that you can either prepare these desserts yourself or pick them up at a local bakery or pastry shop.

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A delicious side dish for Thanksgiving By Lori Mork I love squash! Roast it, bake it, cube it or mash it. It’s one of my favorite fall dishes and a perfect complement to your table at Thanksgiving. Here are a couple of different ways to prepare squash, so give it a try!

WILD RICE STUFFED ACORN SQUASH INGREDIENTS: ROASTED ACORN SQUASH 2 acorn squash, about 3 pounds total 1/8 tsp. salt 1/8 tsp. pepper WILD RICE STUFFING 1/2 cup wild rice blend, uncooked 1 cup vegetable broth 2 Tbsp. butter 1 yellow onion 3 ribs celery 1 apple 1/2 tsp. dried sage 1/2 tsp. dried thyme 1/4 tsp. salt 1/4 tsp. pepper 1/4 cup chopped walnuts 1/4 cup dried cranberries 1 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley INSTRUCTIONS Combine the wild rice blend and vegetable broth in a pot. Cover and bring to a boil over high heat, then reduce heat to low. Let rice simmer for 45 minutes.

Cut each acorn squash in half lengthwise and scoop out seeds. Season cut side of each squash with a pinch of salt and pepper. Place squash on a parchment lined baking sheet, cut side down. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes. Dice onion, celery and core and dice apple. Add onion to a deep skillet with butter. Sauté over medium heat until soft. Add the celery to skillet and continue to sauté for a few minutes more. Add apple to skillet, along with sage, thyme, salt and pepper. Continue to sauté for a few minutes more, or just until the apple is slightly softened. When rice is finished cooking, add it to skillet with onion, celery, and apples. Add the walnuts, cranberries and chopped parsley. Stir to combine. Turn the acorn squash over so the cut side is facing up, either on baking sheet or in casserole dish. Fill squash with wild rice mixture. Return the stuffed squash to the oven and bake for an additional 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

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ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS AND CINNAMON BUTTERNUT SQUASH INGREDIENTS: 3 cups Brussels sprouts ends trimmed, yellow leaves removed 3 Tbsp. olive oil 1/4 tsp. salt, to taste 1-1/2 lb. butternut squash peeled, seeded, and cubed into 1-inch cubes, about 4 cups 2 Tbsp. olive oil 3 Tbsp. maple syrup 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon 2 cups pecan halves 1 cup dried cranberries 2-4 tablespoons maple syrup, optional INSTRUCTIONS: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Lightly grease foil-lined baking sheet with 1 Tbsp. olive oil. Trim ends of Brussels sprouts and remove yellow leaves. Slice all Brussels sprouts in half. In a medium bowl, combine halved Brussels sprouts, 2 Tbsp. of olive oil and salt and toss to combine. Place foil-lined baking sheet, cut side down, and roast for about 20-25 minutes. During the last 5-10 minutes of roasting, turn them over for even brown-

ing, the cut sides should be nicely and partially charred but not blackened. In a medium bowl, combine cubed butternut squash, maple syrup, cinnamon and 1 Tbsp. of olive oil; toss to mix. Place butternut squash in a single layer on baking sheet. Bake for 20-25 minutes, turning once halfway through baking, until softened. You can roast both Brussels sprouts and butternut squash on separate baking sheets at the same time, on the same rack in the oven. Line another baking sheet with parchment paper. Add pecans and toast for approximately 5 minutes at 350 degrees until they are darker in color and fragrant. Keep an eye on the pecans because they burn quickly. In a large bowl, combine roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted butternut squash, pecans and cranberries, and mix to combine. If you want more sweetness, you can add 2-4 Tbsp. more of maple syrup and toss to combine.



When the weather turns colder, find reasons to

By Andy Mellgren

We can always use an excuse to celebrate, especially as the days get shorter and the weather gets colder. Make merry this winter, try a new wine, beer or liquor. Be sure to support our local wineries, distilleries and brewery: Carlos Creek, Rolling Forks, Whitetail Meadow, Ida Graves, Panther and Copper Trail. Our local wine, liquor and beer make great gift ideas as well. Below are some unique days to help you get into a celebratory mood. NOVEMBER 8 NATIONAL COOK SOMETHING BOLD DAY Maybe you’re interested in whipping up an elaborate recipe. Or perhaps you want to

try an ingredient you’ve never used. Today’s the day to put on your apron and have fun in the kitchen. OR support a locally owned restaurant that you haven’t enjoyed in some time. Be sure to order something bold or new.

NOVEMBER 11 NATIONAL VETERANS DAY On this day, we honor our country’s brave military service members. Perhaps you have a few minutes to discuss with the children in your life about the importance of the day, and thank veterans for their service. Also, consider donating to one of the many charitable organizations that serve veterans. This is a great day to celebrate and appreciate our freedoms with family, neighbors and friends.

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NOVEMBER 12 NATIONAL HAPPY HOUR DAY What better reason is there to enjoy a local beer, glass of wine, or cocktail than celebrating Happy Hour Day? Stop in and support your favorite locally owned watering hole for Happy Hour Day specials. Or grab a few bottles and create fun cocktails at home. DECEMBER 5 NATIONAL REPEAL DAY This day commemorates the repeal of the 18th Amendment. This allowed us to once again purchase, sell and consume alcoholic beverages. Hooray! Remember, while Repeal Day is certainly worth cele-

brating our rights and freedoms, be sure to entertain, revel, and party responsibly. DECEMBER 21 BAH HUMBUG DAY Indeed this is an Ebenezer Scrooge approved holiday! According to, the creator of this day, Bah Humbug Day “allows everyone preparing for Christmas to vent their frustrations.” Utilize this day to release the stress of the holiday season. As with anything, do so in moderation. Final thought. I was informed that houseplants grow more slowly in winter months. Cut down on watering by half until active growth resumes in the spring. Cheers!

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December 6 is International Mitten Tree Day

Mittens. Such a small article of clothing, but one that makes a big difference in our lives, especially those of us who live in colder climates. We use those mittens to help make snowballs or to build a snowman, but espe-

cially to keep our hands warm when the temperatures drop. Mittens date back to 1000 A.D. and were believed to have been made of wool. A woolen mitten was found in the harbor area of Dorestad, Netherlands, and was dated

back to the 8th or 9th century A.D. based on archaeological evidence in the surrounding area. International Mitten Tree Day is celebrated around the world each December 6 and there are a couple of ideas as to its origin. One thought is that it was created by school teachers as a way to celebrate the winter season. WHAT DOES THE WORD ‘MITTEN’ MEAN The word ‘mitten’ comes from Old French mitaine, perhaps from mite, a pet name for a cat (because mittens were often made of fur).

The other popular thought is that Mitten Tree Day was inspired by the book of the same name written by Candace Christiansen. However the holiday came about, there are several ways to celebrate. Here are a few ideas to get you started:

READ A BOOK. A modern classic, Jan Brett’s The Mitten is a family favorite about a young boy’s lost mitten that leads to a snowy adventure. You can also read The Mitten Tree by Candace Christiansen, a story of a grandmother who knits mittens, placing them on a tree near a bus stop for the children who don’t have any. MAKE MITTEN DECORATIONS. Have children cut out paper mittens to decorate a tree, your house or an office. WEAR YOUR MITTENS PROUDLY. Roll snowballs, make snowmen, create snow




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angels, all the while wearing your warm, cozy mittens. You can let others know the importance of wearing mittens, or learn the history of mittens. KNIT MITTENS. If you are a knitter or know how to crochet, create some warm mittens for friends or family. You could also use the day to learn how to knit mittens. DONATE MITTENS. Mitten Day is also a chance to bring the gift of warmth to those in your community by creating a mitten tree as a fundraiser. You can set up a Christmas tree and have co-workers, friends and family bring warm mittens and gloves to hang on the tree. You can then donate those mittens to those who need them.

THE MITTEN TREE Published in October 1995, The Mitten Tree by Candace Christiansen is a story of a grandmother who knits mittens for children, hanging them on an evergreen tree near a bus stop. Children without mittens who wait at the bus stop are able to use them for playing in the snow. Each time the grandmother runs out of yarn, a basket with more yarn mysteriously shows up at her door, enabling her to keep creating mittens for the children. THE MITTEN In this retelling of a Ukrainian folktale, Jan Brett’s The Mitten is a story of a young boy and his lost mitten that leads to a winter adventure. After Nicki drops his white mitten in the snow, woodland animals find it and crawl in to stay warm. As more and more animals crawl inside, the mitten stretches to hold each one.

November/December 2021 Chicz


hot chocolate Make mine

CAMPFIRE S’MORES HOT CHOCOLATE Here’s a twist on hot chocolate that will remind you of roasting marshmallows for your favorite camping treat. INGREDIENTS: 4 cups milk (1 cup per serving) 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder 1/4 cup granulated sugar 1/2 cup bittersweet or semisweet chocolate chips or chopped chocolate bar 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

FOR S’MORES HOT CHOCOLATE: 8-12 large marshmallows 2-3 graham crackers, crushed Chocolate syrup INSTRUCTIONS: Add milk, cocoa powder and sugar to small saucepan

and heat on medium-low, whisking frequently, until warm but not boiling. Add chocolate chips and whisk constantly until the chocolate chips melt into the milk. Whisk in vanilla extract. Break open one marshmallow and rub rim of mug, then dip in graham cracker crumbs until coated. Heat oven to broil. Place marshmallows on baking sheet lined with foil. Broil until brown and toasted. Pour hot chocolate into mugs and top with toasted marshmallows. Finish with a drizzle of chocolate syrup and sprinkle with more graham cracker crumbs.

WHITE HOT CHOCOLATE Not everyone is a milk or dark chocolate fan. If you are looking for a delicious hot drink, try this white hot chocolate. INGREDIENTS: 1 cup milk 2 oz. (about 1/3 cup) good-quality white chocolate, chopped OPTIONAL TOPPINGS Whipped cream Marshmallows Whole or crushed candy cane

INSTRUCTIONS: Heat milk in small saucepan until steaming. Add white chocolate and stir until melted. You can also heat milk in the microwave. If you are using the microwave to heat the milk, make sure to chop with white chocolate finely so that it will melt more easily.


warm cup of hot chocolate on a cold winter evening feels so indulgent, but did you know that hot chocolate can be good for you? Cocoa powder has several health benefits, and many studies have show that it has beneficial effects on insulin levels, memory, heart health and more. Below are a few ways in which cocoa can be good for you.

Cocoa powder is a good source of fiber and iron, according to the USDA. Dark chocolate (70-85 percent cacao solids) contains calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, potassium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin K.

Cocoa is rich in antioxidants known as flavonoids, twice the amount found in a glass of red wine and three times as many as in green tea.

According to the American Heart Association, cocoa can reduce the risk of heart attack and stroke.

A study published in the journal Neurology found a connection between drinking hot chocolate and improved memory.

Italian Hot Chocolate

26 Chicz November/December 2021

Creamier and thicker than its American counterpart, Italian hot chocolate is much richer as well. INGREDIENTS: INSTRUCTIONS: 3.5 oz. chopped dark chocolate Add milk to a saucepan and or chocolate chips add chopped chocolate, cocoa 2 Tbsp. cocoa powder, unsweet- powder and sugar. Heat mixened ture, stirring occasionally until all 2 Tbsp. caster (superfine) sugar chocolate and sugar has melted. 2 cups milk plus 2 Tbsp. Mix the corn starch with 2 4 tsp. corn starch tablespoon of cold milk and add 1 small pinch smoked or regular it to chocolate milk. Stir until salt thick and smooth. Add a small pinch of salt and serve.

Gift wrapping Once you’ve finished buying all your Christmas presents, it’s time to start wrapping them. Here are some tips and ideas to make your holiday gift-wrapping a success. CHOOSE COMPLEMENTARY PAPERS If you buy new wrapping paper each year, select three or four rolls that coordinate. This will make it easier to mix and match as you wrap. VARY YOUR RIBBON There are so many options for ribbon, so select some varieties that will complement your wrapping paper. Include different sizes and materials, such as metallic and sheer. BAKER’S TWINE Baker’s twine makes an excellent ribbon, especially if you like to wrap using natural materials. Try wrapping the twine around the gift several


times to give your package some punch.

them in strips around your gift.

CARD STOCK TAGS Another great option is to make your own tags from card stock. There are an abundance of colors and you can cut any shape you desire.

BIG PACKAGE, BIG RIBBON If your package is on the larger side, use a ribbon that’s big enough to complement it. There are always big rolls of satin at craft stores so you can create your own.

LAYER PAPER What do you do with all those ends and small pieces of wrapping paper that are always left over? Try layering

ORNAMENTS Each year, when I wrap my gifts, I add an ornament that either coordinates with my

paper, or one that is significant to the person that the gift will go to. ADD PINE CONES AND GREENERY I have several pine trees in my yard, so I always have an abundance of pine cones and greenery to add to gifts. You can also use faux greenery if you don’t want to take a chance on the real thing.


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CLUES ACROSS 1. Polish city 6. Very eager 10. Identifies a specific person or thing 14. Tennis great Naomi 15. One concerned by professional advancement 17. PGA Championship reward 19. A fashionable hotel 20. Norse mythology afterlife location 21. Stood up 22. Car mechanics group 23. Weather forecasters use it (abbr.) 24. Broken branch 26. Astronomy unit 29. East Asian nursemaid 31. ‘Airplane!’ actor 32. Exclamation that denotes disgust 34. ‘Batman’ villain 35. Downfalls 37. Philippine province 38. Once-vital TV part 39. Valley 40. Tax 41. Classic Scorcese film 43. Subway dwellers 45. Book part 46. Taxi 47. Pancakes made from buckwheat flour 49. Swiss river 50. Founder of Babism 53. Have surgery 57. Withdrawal from a larger entity 58. Lot’s father 59. Greek war god 60. 2,000 lbs. 61. Lemur





28 Chicz November/December 2021


CLUES DOWN 1. Quarrels 2. Right away 3. Comedian Carvey 4. Egyptian unit of weight 5. A Brit’s mother 6. Tropical tree 7. One who speaks Gaelic 8. NHL legend Bobby 9. Vacation spots 10. Military personnel 11. Shakira’s don’t lie 12. Wimbledon champ 13. Teletypewriter 16. Mistakes 18. Whale ship captain 22. Thus 23. From end to end 24. Kids love him 25. One and only 27. Fencing swords 28. Taxis 29. Basics 30. Refuse of grapes 31. Go quickly 33. French ballet dynasty 35. Most open 36. Popular soap ingredient 37. US time zone (abbr.) 39. Items of food 42. Backbones 43. Infrequent 44. Blood type 46. ‘Let It Snow!’ songwriter 47. Dutch colonist 48. Pike 49. Egyptian sun god 50. A cardinal is one 51. From a distance 52. Bolivian river 53. N. American student organization (abbr.) 54. River (Spanish) 55. Chinese life force 56. Chinese surname

November/December 2021 Chicz


contributing writers Al Edenloff of Alexandria and his wife, Celeste, were married in the heart of California wine country and enjoy sipping wine on their weekend date nights.

Lori Mork of Lowry is a mother, grandmother and dabbler in all things food, photography and decor related. Lori Mork

Al Edenloff

Andy Mellgren is the Director of Operations for Plaza and Downtown Liquor.

Celeste Edenloff

Andy Mellgren

Celeste is a reporter for the Echo Press. She enjoys perusing her social media accounts, running and participating in races with her husband, Al.

Lowell Anderson is a photographer at the Echo Press newspaper. Lowell Anderson

Karen Tolkkinen

Karen Tolkkinen is a reporter at the Echo Press. She enjoys writing, gardening and reading to her 8-yearold son.

Shannon Swenson is a Life Coach at Encompass Coaching in Alexandria. She enjoys cooking and reading and is a nature, animal and classic car lover. Shannon Swenson

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