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NO. 60 WINTER 2019-20



2020 YEAR the


Big Ideas!

Live purposefully Friends for life

Whether they’re from down the street or across the globe, Luther students share a collaborative, welcoming spirit. The friends you make here will be part of your life long after you leave Decorah. You’ll see this at Homecoming, when our campus nearly doubles in size with Luther alumni returning for the weekend to their second home.

Find your passions

Luther students are active! Between student groups, musical ensembles, intramural sports groups, and NCAA III teams, you’ll find something you love—and friends who share your interest. At Luther, students enjoy a great balance: intellectual curiosity and engagement in the classroom, and plenty of opportunities for extracurriculars too.

Learn more at luther.edu

YOGA. COMMUNITY. SUN. Ring in the 2020 Summer Solstice Weekend at the Driftless Yoga Festival! Explore the beauty of the region through yoga-inspired workshops & events, showcasing talented yoga teachers & great Driftless spaces.


3 amazing days of sun salutations, meditation, workshops, asanas, & more. Early bird registration starts December 1, 2019 at DriftlessYogaFestival.com

New Year, New FREE Catalog of Untreated, Non-Hybrid, Non-GMO Seeds

600+ cherished and proven varieties for your garden and 20+ new offerings for 2020!



Decorah, Iowa 1930s Soda Fountain • Ice Cream, Chocolates, Nostalgic Candies, 14 Flavors of Fudge – All homemade, in-house daily

Small batch Fresh Fudge

e season! ‘Tis th

207 Pearl St. Downtown La Crosse, WI • www.pearlicecream.com • 608-782-6655


Eggs, Minneola Organic Farms, Zumbrota, MN Rochester: 29 miles Green Pastures Poultry Farm, Cashton, WI La Crosse: 32 miles

your partner in

local food.

! y a d o t n i Jo riftless eD h t t c e t o Help pr

Downtown La Crosse, WI and Rochester, MN www.pfc.coop 7 days, 7 am–10 pm Open to the public • Free parking!

For the last 40 years, Iowa Natural Heritage Foundation has been proud to protect and restore some of the most beautiful places in the Driftless Region — creating more parks, trails and wildlife areas for people to get outdoors and working with landowners to preserve the land they love. Become a member, volunteer or learn more at www.inhf.org.

WINTER 2019-20 contents

16 38


q&a with five driftless bakers


aryn’s chocolate chip cookie recipe


jonah’s hands


paper project: paper fortune cookies


infographic: big ideas in 2020!


arthur geisert


sum of your biz: michelle whitehill


Stay active this winter


curling clubs




sledding party


probit: margaret blake



ON THE COVER: Happy New Year, dear readers! We are so excited to kick off this new year - this decade(!) with our best foot foward. Let’s do this! / Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols. iloveinspired.com \ Winter 2019-20


Support your local business community! Money spent locally supports the local economy, which directly impacts the future community. Join the movement and

support local! Photograph by Randy Haugen

—Four shows coming this Spring—

CenterStage Series 2019–20

All shows start at 7:30 p.m.


March 7

The true story about a Canadian farmer vs. Monsanto Annabel Soutar’s

March 14


“Great journalism and even better theatre.” —The Montreal Gazette

The Brubeck Brothers Quartet April 17

February 14

Broadway’s finest stars perform the best, most-beloved Broadway songs

2019–20 Center Stage Series Major Sponsors

Shadow-illusion dance troupe featured on America’s Got Talent

A musical legacy integrating funk, blues, and world music

To find out more about the performers, or to join Friends of Center Stage, visit

tickets.luther.edu • (563) 387-1357 Luther College • Center for Faith and Life 700 College Drive • Decorah, Iowa

From the Editor

2020! What! It’s the future, you guys!


t seems almost impossible that we’re approaching this new decade – and that we’ve been publishing this “experiment in positive news” for 12 years! But it’s not impossible…and, in fact, it never was. That’s always been one of our biggest goals: to remind you that big dreams start with that first step, a lot of hard work, and the willingness to jump in! Are you ready?! Let’s Make 2020 the Year of Big Ideas! Of course, I just had to put a “Big Ideas” infographic together to give you some inspiration! Check it out on page 34. We also want to share our infinite gratitude to all of our readers, and especially our advertisers, as we see our 60th issue of Inspire(d) roll out into the world. Woohoo! Time just keeps on slipping…so we’ve got to embrace every day. This winter season, we hope that means embracing the fun, the cozy, and the notion that there is no bad weather as long as you’re wearing the right clothes. One of our favorite things to do on a cold winter day is bake. In fact, we’ve got some of my chocolate chip cookies in the oven right now (see the recipe on page 26)! We loved reading Maggie Sonnek’s interviews with five Driftless Region bakers – Karin Sassaman from Sassy Baker, Kristy Donovan from Fayette Sweets, Jen Barney from Meringue Bakery, Irene Fishburn from Newburg Vintage, and Mikki Boyd from Jo’s Coffee House (pg 16) – and learning how things work in their kitchens. Stay with the warm fuzzies while you read about Jonah Larson, an 11-year-old crochet prodigy from La Crosse, Wisconsin (pg 28). He has hooked the hearts of folks across the world with his beautiful crochet projects and kind heart. Then get motivated for some winter adventures – you could head to the Dubuque Museum of Art to check out Elkader, Iowa-based children’s book author and illustrator Arthur Geisert’s work, on display through January 5, 2020. It’s a fun drive, and be sure to read all about Geisert beforehand in Kristine Jepsen’s story on page 38. Or perhaps you’d like to add “try the sport of curling or broomball” to your adventure list! After reading about these sports on page 56, I really want to try both! At the very least, I’ll go sledding. It’s my favorite! Check out our tips for hosting a Sledding Party on page 64. As we launch into this year of Big Ideas, a great first step is getting organized – read this issue’s Sum of Your Business, featuring Michelle Whitehill of Personally Organized, to get the de-cluttering ball rolling at your house. Thank you so much, dear readers, for your support of Inspire(d). We couldn’t make this magazine without you! We wish you the happiest of holidays and the best New Year possible. You inspire us. Looking forward,

What’s it mean?

Inspire(d) Inspire(d) – pronounced in-spy-erd... you know: inspired – stands for both inspire and be inspired. The idea is that person one inspires person two. That person is now inspired. Then that person inspires person three (or person one again), who is now inspired. Then the cycle continues! That’s what those arrows around the (d) are about! And our mission is, ultimately, to change the world… starting with our own community!

Who are we? Co-founders:

Aryn Henning Nichols / editor & designer Benji Nichols / writer & advertising sales (& husband, distributor, logistics)

We couldn’t do it without: Kristine Jepsen / contributor Sara Friedl-Putnam / contributor Maggie Sonnek / contributor Sara Walters/ contributor Inspire(d) Magazine is published quarterly by Inspire(d) Media, LLC, 412 Oak Street, Decorah, Iowa, 52101. This issue is dated Winter 2019-20, Issue 60, Volume 13, Copyright 2019 by Inspire(d) Magazine.

support inspire(d) Although Inspire(d) is free on stands, you can have it sent to your door (or extended family!) for only $25/year. Email aryn@iloveinspired.com for a membership or visit iloveinspired.com for more info. Write inspire(d) Want to make a comment about something you read in the magazine? Email aryn@iloveinspired.com. Interested in advertising? Contact Benji at benji@iloveinspired.com or call 563-379-6315. Visit our website: iloveinspired.com

Aryn Henning Nichols

facebook.com/iloveinspired iloveinspired.com \ Winter 2019-20


What We’re


right now

while the nearby Wildcat Mountain State Park hosts a candlelight ski/hike/snowshoe and winter star gazing event the same evening. The fest is free and open to the public, but please keep in mind that activities are subject to change due to weather conditions. Children must be accompanied by an adult, and while dogs are welcome, they must be kept on leash. Keep an eye on the ‘Kickapoo Valley Reserve’ Facebook page for more details or call the KVR Visitor Center at 608-625-2960. kvr.state.wi.us/Events/Annual-Events/Winterfest/

A little list of what we think is awesome in the Drifltess Region this winter...

20th Annual KVR WinterFest Concordia Ballroom La Crosse – Winter Dances Looking for a way to have fun, keep active, and socialize this winter? There’s nothing like a spin around the dance floor of a warm ballroom, and the Concordia in La Crosse has a winter full of fun planned! The Concordia Ballroom, located near the UW La Crosse Campus downtown, is over 130 years old, with a hardwood maple sprung


Join in the winter fun at the 20th annual Kickapoo Valley Reserve Winterfest, near La Farge, Wisconsin! January 11 will bring opportunities for families to experience great winter activities like sledding, skiing, archery, snow sculpture, ice cave hikes, chain saw carving, wildlife talks and hikes, face painting, horse-drawn bobsled rides, snowshoe exhibit, Tri-state Malamute Club Sled Dog Race and weight pull, snow mountain and snow tunnel, Snow Snake Competition, Fat Tire Bike Demonstrations… and more! The La Farge Lions Club also hosts an annual chili and bread contest for the public,

Dance & Theatre



MARCH 13 7:30 PM MARCH 14–1:30 PM



APRIL 17 – 9:30 PM APRIL 18 – 1:30 & 7:30 PM APRIL 19 – 1:30 PM


MAY 7, 8 & 9 – 7:30 PM

Mark your calendars for these spring shows! Details online at luther.edu/visual-performing-arts/ 08

Winter 2019-20 / iloveinspired.com

dance floor that was specially designed for dancing. Originally built for the local German-American community, the all-volunteer Concordia Aid Society owns and maintains the ballroom as a community asset, offering weekly dances throughout the winter and beyond. Board Chair Dave Ford says that many families in the La Crosse area can trace their roots to the Concordia. “People I meet often say that their parents or grandparents met at the Concordia; they wouldn’t be here without the Concordia! In fact, I met my wife at the Concordia, and 33 years later we still love to dance.” The ballroom stays true to its Germanic roots, hosting regular Sunday afternoon polka dances with regional ‘Dutchmen’ favorites. Polka, schottische, waltz, and two step your way while making friends and socializing. Other groups regularly use the building to host ballroom, folk, and square dances, or for exercise and ballroom dance classes with the Continental Dancers, a ballroom dance club that has met monthly during the school year at the Concordia since 1997. They offer a dance lesson at 7 pm and music at 8 pm, usually on the third Friday of the month. The ballroom is also available to rent for business, community, and family events and celebrations. Step in, step up, and enjoy a spin around the dance floor! Facebook: Concordia Ballroom La Crosse. www.concordiaballroom.com

Decorah - She Is Women’s Conference The “She Is” women’s conference is coming to Decorah April 24, 2020! A one-day personal and professional development conference, She Is brings women from across the region together for a day of inspiring conversation, deep connection, networking, incredible food, and more! Brought to you by Rural Kind Co. – a team of women from the Emmetsburg, Iowa, area – along with local partners, this event provides a great chance for regional women to connect in beautiful downtown Decorah. The She Is 2020 tour has stops scheduled in a variety of locations across the region. The tour focuses on redefining success, killing fear, and “kinda” keeping it together” along the way. Rural Kind Co, along with Rendered Unique, and Reefuel in Decorah will help navigate this one-day opportunity, hosted at T-Bock’s Upstairs. Can’t make it to the Decorah event? More details to come, with registration information at: www.ruralkindco.com

iloveinspired.com \ Winter 2019-20


What We’re

Loving EVERYTHING FROM JEANS TO SUITS! Extended hours! 130 W. Water St. Decorah, Iowa 563.382.5761

M, T, W, F 9-6 Thursday 9-8 Saturday 9-5 Sunday 12-4

right now

A little list of what we think is awesome in the Drifltess Region this winter...


Open 6:30 am to 6 pm Mon-Sat • 6:30 am to 3 pm Sun


Where the coffee is always on and the food is always homemade! Lunch Specials Mon-Fri Baked Goods Everyday

javajohnscoffeehouse.com 400 W Water St. Decorah, IA • 563-382-5690 415 W WATER ST, DECORAH, IOWA

M-F 10-15 • Sat 10-4 • Sun 12-4

563-382-4646 | redroxyquiltco.com



Sustainable Beautiful Efficient David J. Wadsworth • 563.419.0390 • wadsworthconstruction.com 10

Winter 2019-20 / iloveinspired.com

Benji at Leadership Iowa <3 Here at Inspire(d), we’re big fans of folks who step up to take on challenges big and small throughout their communities. In fact, telling the stories and sharing the opportunities to jump in and “do” are a huge part of what we’re all about! That just may be a large reason why Inspire(d)’s Benji Nichols became a part of the 2019-20 Leadership Iowa (LI) Class! Leadership Iowa, now in its fourth decade, is Iowa’s premier statewide issues-awareness program for current and emerging Iowa leaders. The program brings together 40 diverse adult professionals for eight monthly sessions across the state, and provides an indepth look at a variety of important topics including economic development, education, government, agriculture, and more. Leadership Iowa exists to educate, inspire, and grow a network of informed leaders. A program of the Iowa AIB (Association of Industry and Business) Foundation, it has produced 38 classes, and over 1,000 graduates from all across the state. Upon completion, attendees use the tools they gain during their experience to bring about positive change in their workplaces and communities, thereby creating a better future for Iowa. How awesome is that? We’re so excited to have Benji involved with Leadership Iowa this year, and look forward to reading more about his experiences on our website as he chronicle’s his adventures and lessons along the way. Check out more about Leadership Iowa at iowaabi.org, and read more about Benji’s involvement on our website at iloveinspired.com. Onward!

More New spots in the Driftless! We love to share new fun places for our readers to visit in the region, and 2019 has been a great year for the creation of new fun businesses! We’re back this issue to tell you about a few more you can explore! Our friends in Spring Grove at Red’s Hometown Market have been busy brewing up a new side of the business – a coffee shop! That’s right, Jo’s Coffeehouse is a fully separate coffee shop with a great selection of espresso drinks, smoothies, baked goods, and more (you can read about their pastry chef on page 25). Swing by and check it out next time you’re through Spring Grove – Mon-Fri, 6 am-5 pm, Sat 8 am-3 pm, closed Sunday. (joscoffeehouse.com) Just up the road in La Crosse, Schuby’s Neighborhood Butcher and Deli has opened at 321 State Street in the Belle Square complex. Schuby’s features products from local farmers, with housebutchered and dry-aged meats, house-made sausages, cold and hot sandwiches, charcuterie and cheese boards, unique grocery items, and cocktails, beer, and wine to go with! (schubys.com) Speaking of beer, the brewery scene continues to amplify here in the Driftless, and boy have there been some exciting additions and expansions. Trout City Brewing is now rockin’ in downtown Preston, Minnesota, featuring a nice coffee and baked goods selection during the morning hours, and a fun, easy menu and beers throughout the evenings – the 125-year-old building alone (pictured at right) is worth stopping by to see! (troutcitybrewing.com) Just over the way in Fountain, Minnesota, Karst Brewing has completed a cool expansion into a neighboring building, making their indoor and outdoor seating areas larger and ramping up capacity a bit. (karstbrewed.com) And word on the street is that PawPrint Brewing will be open in downtown Chatfield by early 2020 as well! (pawprintbrewery.com) Over on the river in Lansing, Iowa, sisters Wendi Eiden and Diana Wilson-Thompson have been brewing up great coffee and baking up a storm with their house-made goodies at Coffee on the River on South Front Street (pictured at right). Their new coffee shop is open 7 am-4 pm Mon-Wed, 7 am-9 pm Thurs-Sat (with wine and beer available), and 8 am-2 pm Sundays. (coffeeontheriver.com) Meanwhile at 301 West Water Street in Downtown Decorah, Darryl Muggli-Toyloy has opened up the 301 Eatery, a casual lunch spot and bakery featuring his highly sought-after farmers market goodies like scones, cookies, and sourdough breads. Hours are 10 am-2 pm Monday – Saturday.


Schera’s Bruening on Podcast “Mid Americana”


Brian Bruening, owner of Schera’s Algerian-American Restaurant in Elkader, is the featured guest on the latest episode of a new podcast “MidAmericana: Stories from a Changing Midwest.” Mid-Americana explores the history and identity of the Greater Midwest through the lives and stories of individual people. The debut season, with the theme “Homecoming,” features eight native Iowans who left the Midwest and came back to stay. It details what pulled them away, what drew them back, and what they contribute now to a changing Midwest. The podcast is a project of Central College professors Joshua Dolezal, professor of English, and Brian Campbell, director of sustainability education. Campbell visited Elkader in September to record the podcast episode, where Bruening discussed his childhood as a farm kid in New Hampton, his experience as a Midwesterner living in Boston, and the story of establishing Schera’s restaurant together with his husband, Frederique Boudouani. Bruening’s interview is the fourth episode of Mid-Americana, following conversations with RAYGUN founder Mike Draper, Dawn Martinez Oropeza, executive director of Al Exito, a mentoring and youth empowerment organization that works with hundreds of middle and high school-aged Latinos across Iowa, and Megan McKay, the founder and owner of Peace Tree Brewing Company in Knoxville, Iowa. The podcast is available on the website midamericana.com and can be downloaded through Apple, Google Play, Spotify and Stitcher. Additional episodes will be released every other Wednesday through mid-January.

Sunday Holiday Hours DEC. 1, 8, 15, 22 (12-4)


iloveinspired.com \ Winter 2019-20





Looking for more details about events on the calendars? Check out these great winter activities! In chronological order, each event’s number coincides with its number on the calendar! 1. December 1: Helping Services Holiday Lights! Open every evening 5-9pm through Christmas night. Santa visits Thurs-Sun nights 5:308pm. www.helpingservices.org

impactcoffee.com 101 West Water St. Decorah, Iowa . 563.419.3141



luluandbbs.com 563-382-4431

Monday: Closed Sat: 10-5 Tue-Fri: 10-6 Sun: 10-2

NEW LOCATION – 118 E Water St, Decorah, Iowa

2. December 2: If random facts are your thing, then Toppling Goliath Taproom Trivia is your gig! Every Monday night 6-7:30pm, Decorah. www.tgbrews.com Prizes to winning team!  3. December 7: Local Feast! Sample and shop local foods from IA, WI & MN while you enjoy kids’ activities, cooking demos, interactive art, music and prizes. Rochester, MN; local-feast.org. 4. December 10: “Let’s get ready to BINGO” every Tuesday night from 6-7:30pm at Toppling Goliath. Plus, wheel of fortune and mystery-wrapped prizes!  www.tgbrews.com

25W/ $25B

5. December 11: Wineglass Painting w/ Lisa Goodwin. Our seasonal wineglass painting series continues with a beautiful winter-themed creation at Heaven Boutique Winery near Fayette, IA. $25 includes all supplies and a glass of wine. Register: 563-362-2240 or heavenwinery.com 6. December 15: Toppling Goliath Brunch Buffet every third Sunday, through May. (Dec. 15, Jan. 19 & Feb. 17) Serving from 10am to 2 pm. Reservations encouraged at events@tgbrews.com. See FB for menu! www.tgbrews.com 7. December 20: Cheers Big Band Holiday Dance at the Concordia. Big band sound, great dance floor. 7-10:30 p.m. Sunday dances weekly, 1-5 p.m. Facebook-Concordia Ballroom La Crosse. www.concordiaballroom.com

DRIVE-THROUGH Light Show! Open 5-9 pm thru Dec. 25, 2019 Pulpit Rock Campground Decorah, Iowa

8. January 11: Jester Puppets “Space Cadets”! Come travel through space with cadets of the Academy at Decorah Public Library –solve problems, overcome challenges, work together! 1:30 pm, Preregistration required. www.decorah.lib.ia.us 9. January 11-12: Vesterheim Folk Art School class “Reclaim Your Christmas Tree”, carving fun for all ages with Rebecca Hanna, Jan. 11-12. Register at vesterheim.org. 10. January 12: Leather ‘N Lace at the Concordia Ballroom playing popular dance music, old-time, country, and polka. Sunday dances weekly, 1-5 p.m. Facebook-Concordia Ballroom La Crosse. www.concordiaballroom.com 11. January 16-25: New Minowa Players presents “Winnie the Pooh” January 16-25, Decorah. Full schedule and tickets ($10/$5), available at Oneota Community Co-op and at  newminowaplayers.org. Phone 563-382-5174


Winter 2019-20 / iloveinspired.com

fun stuff to do






Scandinavian Music Jam, Vesterheim, Decorah, 1-3pm



Barnetimen Chlidren’s Hour, Vesterheim, Decorah, 10am


4 “Let’s Get Ready to Bingo!” Every Tuesday, 6-7:30pm, Toppling Goliath









“Fruit Cakes,” Elkader Opera House

19 Dec 13-15:



Decorah Parks & Rec NYE Bash at Luther NYE at Toppling Goliath w/ Bruce Day & Mike Regents Center, Staebell, 6-9pm 6:30 – 10:30pm

Old Fashioned NYE, Trempealeau Hotel, 9pm

NYE at the Elks w/ Avey/ Grouws Band, Decorah




DEC 21: • Indoor Farmer’s Market, Winn. Co. Fairgrounds, Decorah 8:30-11:30am • The Ex-Bombers, Trempealeau Hotel, 8pm

Them Coulee Boys & Wheelhouse, Cavalier

Mike McAbee, The Tavern, Prairie, 9pm

* 27*

Burning Bright Concert, Decorah, 4 & 7 pm Driftless All Star Holiday Show, Masonic Theatre, Winona, 8pm


Cheers Big Band Holiday Dance, Concordia Ballroom, La Crosse, 7-10:30pm


Holiday 14 The Last Revel, Winterland, Hullabaloo, Cavalier, La Children’s Englert, Iowa Crosse Museum La City, 8pm Crosse, PreReg Dec 13-14: A Required Joe & Vicki Very Merry Price, Safe Mike McAbee, Holiday Fair, House, Lansing Waukon Vets Baraboo, WI Club


DEC 20: • Holiday Sing Along w/ Dan Chouinard, St. Mane, Lanesboro • Home for the Holidays w/ Euforquestra, Englert, 7:30pm


Bingo at PIVO Brewery, Calmar, 6-8pm

La Crosse Children’s Museum Countdown to Noon!



5 Wineglass Painting! Heaven Boutique Winery, Fayette, IA

DEC 14: • MN Marine Art Museum 2nd Saturday! $1 adm., Winona, 10am-5pm • Nici Peper, Andy Hughes, Jamie Waggoner, Fortney Underground, Viroqua



6 Toppling Goliath Brunch Buffet (every third Sunday), Decorah, 10am-2pm


CP 8 Holiday Train! Lansing (4:50pm) & New Albin (6:15pm), La Crescent (8:15pm)


Dec 7-8: 6 7 3 Decorah 100 Miles of Lighted Local Feast, Christmas, Holiday Sample & Shop Winona & Parade, 6pm local foods! Lake Pepin DEC 7: Rochester • Forever Elvis – the Spirit Lives! Hwy Vesterheim 61 Series, St. Cecilia, Winona Norwegian • Ryan Summers, Trempealeau Hotel Christmas • Wyatt Easterling, Chatfield CFA


Dec 5-8: • Christmas at Luther • Decorah Hometown Holidays / Open House Weekend


2 Helping 1 2 1 Services “Sanders Family Taproom Christmas” through ‘Holiday Trivia – Every Dec 22, Commonweal, Lights’ open Monday! Lanesboro daily through Toppling Christmas, Goliath, Dec 6-22: “Elf The Pulpit Rock Decorah, Musical” La Crosse Campground, 6-7:30pm Community Theatre Decorah


December Dec 6-8: Superhero “Buildspiel”, Curling Club of Rochester, MN




Happy New Year!






20 Martin Luther King Jr. Day

Jan 12-13: Dorian Vocal Festival, Luther College

26 “Where I’m From” Community Art Show through February, ArtHaus, Decorah

Jan 26: WInneshiek Wedding Market, Hotel Winneshiek, 12-4 pm


“Favorite Things” through Spring 2020, Vesterheim

Jan 18-19: WI Free Fishing Weekend


Leather N’ Lace Old Time Dance, Concordia Ballroom, La Crosse, 1-5pm


Mandolin Orange, Englert, Iowa City, 7:30pm




Jan 28: Luther College J-Term Opera Performances







“Writing for (much) fun and (little) Profit”, Jerry Johnson, Luther College



Rebirth Brass Band, Englert, IA City, 7:30pm


Happy Chinese New Year!

25 Frozen River Film Fest Preview, St. Mane, Lanesboro, 7:30pm

Barnetimen Chlidren’s Hour, Vesterheim, Decorah, 10am


8 11 Jester Puppets “Space Cadets” Decorah Library 9 Vesterheim “Reclaim Your Christmas Tree” Folk Art Class

Jan 31 – Feb 2: Women’s Sippy Bonspiel, Centerville Curling Club, Galesville, WI

Jan 31 – Feb 1: Snowflake Ski Jump Tournament, Westby, WI


Charlie Parr, St. Mane Theatre, Lanesboro, 8pm


Jan 16-25: New Minowa 11 Players present “Winnie the Pooh”, Decorah

4 Yeardley, live music, Pulpit Rock Brewing, 6 pm


17 * Joe & Vicki Price, Ed’s No Name, Winona

Jan 18: “Truths Be Told” with ArtHaus, Courtyard & Cellar, Decorah 7:30pm


Jan 10-11: Oneota Valley Community Orchestra, “Amahl and the Night Visitors,” DHS Auditorium, 7pm


Jan 17-19: Senior Open Bonspiel, Centerville Curling Club, Galesville, WI


JAN 11: • Juried High School Art Opening, Lanesboro Arts, 5-7pm • “Second Saturday” at Vesterheim! Free Admission 10-4 • 20th Annual Kickapoo Valley Reserve Winter Fest! La Farge • The Chicories, Arum Rae, Parrish Music, Viroqua


“Shutterbug: Mid Century Photography of David Tewes”, MN Marine Art Musem, Winona




fun stuff to do



Oneota Valley Comm. Orchestra, Rossini, Beethoven, Hippen, Tchaikovsky, 3pm


“Let’s Eat and Drink Together” cooking class Vesterheim Folk School





Barnetimen Chlidren’s Hour, Vesterheim, Decorah, 10am






The Okee Dokee Brothers, Page Series, SMU, Winona, 3pm


Emerging 1 Artist Exhibit Reception, Lanesboro Arts, 6-8pm

* 7 *Ann Reed,8 Magician * Peter Chatfield Boie,



COMING UP MARCH 7: • Pat Ferguson & Friends, The Fortney Underground, Viroqua •“Catapult”, Luther CSS, Decorah



Eagle Bluff, Dinner on the Bluff w/ Nic Mink


“The Magic Feb 21of Isaiah”, 23: Men’s Decorah Bonspiel, Barn Library Burner Classic, Centerville Party Fun!, Curling Club, Children’s Galesville, WI Museum of La Crosse, 9am-5pm


Feb 14-15: Second City, Englert, IA City, 8pm

13 15 14 Neil Berg’s “Scandinavian 101 Years of Craft Cocktails” Broadway, Class, Luther Center Vesterheim Stage Folk School

Jon 28 Ailabouni Danú, Page Jazz Sextet, Series, SMU, Luther Winona 7:30pm


Feb 20-23: “9 to 5, The Musical”, Page Theatre, St. Mary’s U, Winona

Feb 13-16: Oneota Film Festival 2020! ‘Beyond the Crater’, Decorah

WSU Dancescape, Winona, 7:30pm




Mike Doughty, Luther College Center for the The Mill, IA Arts, 7:30pm City, 8pm Decorah Fire Roads, Rivers, Dept Gala, and Trains, Toppling Feb 5-9: Frozen River Parish Music, Goliath, 12 Film Festival, Winona Viroqua 7-10pm


Feb 14: Luther Steven Marking Nordic Choir & JoAnn Funk: Homecoming “The February Concert, CFL Show”, Lanesboro Arts


Feb 7: Cecilia Cornejo, “The Wandering House” Film Event, Lanesboro Arts


Kelly Sharp “African Roots in Southern Fields” Luther College




Feb 7-9: Modified Mixed Bonspiel, Centerville Curling Club, Galesville, WI


FEB 29: • “The Great Inflate!” Decorah HS Gym, 10am-2pm • La Crosse Children’s Museum 21st Birthday Party! • Stick Bonspiel, Centerville Curling Club, Galesville, WI • Michael Charles, Pump House, La Crosse, 7pm

“Tattoo: Identity Through Ink” runs through April, Vesterheim Museum, Decorah

Groundhog Day!



FEB 8: • MN Marine Art Museum 2nd Saturday! $1 adm., Winona, 10am-5pm • IA Driftless Trout Unlimited Fly Fishing Workshop, Decorah HS Gym, 10am-noon • Xiao Hu & Du Huang, Piano Duo, Luther College




fun stuff to do

25W/ $25B












Inspire(d) World’s Greatest Party


Date (not included in word count): Worlds Greatest Party! 7-10 pm. Inspire(d) invites you to the greatest party ever! We’ll have amazing amounts of fun! See you there! www.website.com



Questions? Email benji@iloveinspired.com

(Direct link: iloveinspired.com/25-words-25-bucks/)

See - we told you about our amazing fictional party in less than 25 words! On the visual calendar (like the one at left), your event will be listed along with a number that corresponds. People can just scan on over to the following pages to get the details!


Simple! We get an email with all your details exactly as you’d like to see them in the listing, and then we add it to the calendar!

It works like this: 1. Go to iloveinspired.com and click on the 25W/$25B sidebar box 2. Enter your information in our online form 3. Click through to PayPal to complete the transaction

Thus we’ve implemented a simple, expandable list of events for the pages following our regular calendars. Those who are planning “fun stuff to do” get a guaranteed spot on the calendar and in that event listing by purchasing “25 Words/$25 Bucks.”

We know it’s a tough racket to put on live music, activities, and special events, so we want to give you a chance to get the word out without breaking the bank.

Calendar time is always an exciting time at Inspire(d) Headquarters. “Just how much can we fit on there this month?!?” In recent years, what we had chosen for these lovely pages had been entirely editorial and subjective. We figured, hey, you like our magazine, so you’ll probably like the fun stuff to do that we pick out from around our region. But we’re running out of space and want you, our lovely readers, friends, and fellow event planners, to be able to tell us a little more about your fun.

25 Words/$25 Bucks


Looking for more details about events on the calendars? Check out these great winter activities! In chronological order, each event’s number coincides with its number on the calendar! 12. February 5-9: The Frozen River Film Festival (Winona) engages, educates, and activates our community to become involved in the world through the art of documentary films. www.frff.org 13. February 15: Vesterheim Folk Art School class – “Scandinavian Craft Cocktails”: learn to make original modern Scandinavian-style cocktails with Stephen Larson. Register at vesterheim.org. 14. February 16: Vesterheim Folk Art School class – “Let’s Eat and Drink Together”: learn to make modern Scandinavian food and drinks with Stephen Larson. Register at vesterheim.org.

25W/ $25B

15. February 22: Families are invited to ‘The Magic of Isaiah’ at Decorah Public Library! Join a high energy magic show with lots of audience participation, clean family comedy, tricks, and illusions! Pre-registration required. www.decorah.lib.ia.us



563-382-3067 Vintage, Handmade, & Fair Trade

16. February 29: Eagle Bluff presents Dinner on the Bluff with Sitka Salmon Shares president Nic Mink: “Climate Change and the Fish on Your Plate.” Tickets at eaglebluffmn.org/events or 507-467-2437

Planning an event for spring - March, April, or May? Submit a 25 Words / $25 Bucks listing for our calendars at iloveinspired.com

the peddler

107 Coffee St. East, Lanesboro MN. 507.380.1677

R.M. Granet & Company North Iowa’s Internat iona l Gift & A n tique S tore

Featuring... fine art, estate jewelry, porcelain, crystal, silver, antiques and home furnishings

1110 North Grand Avenue Charles City, IA 50616 Phone Number 641-220-5100 iloveinspired.com \ Winter 2019-20



Karin Sassaman of Sassy Baker in Decorah, makes treast like this Danish for Impact Coffee.

Sassy Baker 16

Winter 2019-20 / iloveinspired.com

Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols

Q & A with five female bakers in the Driftless Region


cratch-made apple pie. Chocolate croissants. Frosted sugar cookies. What do they all have in common? They’re all baked goods, yes. They all taste yummy, of course. But, what we learned from conversations with five bakers in the Driftless Region is this: These baked goods hold more power than you’d expect – they are a tangible and outward expression of love. During the holidays, you might have a laughter-filled bake-a-thon with your kids, preparing homemade treats as gifts. Or later this winter, you might hear a neighbor is having a tough time, so you drop by a plate of your famous chocolate chip oatmeal cookies. And it’s pure magic that ingredients as simple as butter, flour, and salt can create an amazing, flaky piecrust. There’s a reason the expression is, “Made with love.” Indeed, cooking or baking something from scratch is the perfect recipe for fuzzy-good feelings. It even has a name: culinary therapy. Numerous studies have found that slicing, dicing, measuring, and scraping has a meditative quality that can leave people feeling more relaxed and happier in their everyday lives. And few things up the cozy factor than the smell and warmth of something baking in the oven. All of the bakers we spoke with – Karin Sassaman from Sassy Baker, Kristy Donovan from Fayette Sweets, Jen Barney from Meringue Bakery, Irene Fishburn from Newburg Vintage, and Mikki Boyd from Jo’s Coffee House – learned this to be true at an early age – usually by baking side-by-side with their mother or grandmother. Now, we are passing their memories, tips, and advice on to you. So, grab a steaming mug of coffee or tea, an apple strudel, and cozy in...

Karin Sassaman

The Sassy Baker, Decorah, Iowa • www. facebook.com/TheSassyBakerIowa As a stay-at-home-mom, Karin Sassaman first started baking in her Decorah, Iowa home. “I needed to find a hobby,” she jokes. “I knew my life was bigger than laundry, cooking, and cleaning.” First, she started baking out of her home and delivering treats to friends and neighbors. Then she set up shop at the local farmers market, selling goodies like gluten-free bread, Danish pastries, and caramel rolls. Most recently, she’s been providing baked goods, including chocolate croissants and cinnamon rolls, for Impact Coffee in downtown Decorah.

Q&A with Karin

First baking memory My first memory of baking actually precedes me, all the way back to my great-grandfather. He emigrated from Denmark and opened up a bakery in Green Bay, Wisconsin. When a family heirloom



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was passed down to me – his bakery tins – my dreams of baking for a living became even more solidified. Favorite baking tool When I first started baking out of my house 15 years ago, my husband gifted me a stand mixer. I still use it today. A cake to remember I love baking kransekake, a traditional Danish and Norwegian cake, especially during the holidays. The tower cake is made up of 18 layers stuck together with icing. It’s hard to the touch, but soft and chewy. And, I use my greatgrandfather’s tins to make this! Keeping it local Shop local, bake local, eat local. That’s my mission. I buy local whenever possible – that includes honey, maple syrup, and produce. We’re living in a pretty amazing place. There are so many products and so much food that comes from all the hard work of people around us. I love supporting each other.


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iloveinspired.com \ Winter 2019-20


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Kristy Donovan

Est. 1961 People you can Trust. Quality you can depend on.

31 West Main Street Waukon, Iowa Mon: 9am - 7pm. Tues - Fri: 9am - 5pm. Sat: 9am - 3pm

Looking for an

Fayette Sweets, Fayette, Iowa • fayettesweets.com

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Formerly the lead pastry chef at the flagship Whole Foods in Chicago, Kristy and her husband took a huge leap of faith when they moved to Fayette, Iowa – pop. 1,300 – in 2017. Though they moved for her husband’s job at Upper Iowa University, it didn’t take long for Kristy to find her own niche as well: baking. Initially, Kristy was thinking she’d sell baked goods out of her home, but she quickly saw the community need for a place that would bring folks off Hwy 150 in to downtown Fayette. You can now find her baked goods – morning pastries, cookies, pie, quiche, cakes, and special occasion desserts – at her pastry shop, Fayette Sweets, and in the pastry cases at Impact Coffee in Decorah, and Euphoria Coffee in West Union.

Q&A with Kristy

First memory of baking My mom was a preschool teacher, and for the two weeks leading up to Christmas, we baked. And baked. And baked. We didn’t give gift cards. We gave baked goods. And I continued doing that until I moved away. Favorite baking tool It’s a tie between my scale and digital thermometer. Favorite thing about baking I feel like I am infusing hope into our town through baked goods. Small towns like Fayette are dying. Businesses are leaving. When we moved here, I knew I wanted to open up a bakery to support the area and lift others up. Another way I can do that is to buy local products – like eggs, yogurt, coffee, tea, and even yeast.

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Winter 2019-20 / iloveinspired.com

Tips and tricks I have two special tips for making pecan pie even more delicious. The secret ingredients are bourbon and brown butter. • Add 2 oz (1/4 cup) of Bourbon to the pie mix. Bake pie per directions. • Brown unsalted butter over medium heat. Frequently stir to be sure butter is cooking evenly. As the butter melts, it will begin to foam. The color will progress from yellow to toasty-brown. It will smell nutty. Immediately remove from heat. Once your pie is out of the oven and still hot, pour the brown butter over the pie and crust. It will soak into all the nooks and crannies for an unparalleled flavor boost. Community impact – The community has been supportive of me from day one. Even before that. When I was operating out of my house, my customers would stop by and say, ‘When are you opening?’ Those same people come into the cafe at 7 am everyday. I know their names, drinks, and bakery order.

These bagel bombs â&#x20AC;&#x201C; the Everything Bagel shown here â&#x20AC;&#x201C; are a popular offering from Kristy Donovan of Fayette Sweets.

Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols

Fayette Sweets iloveinspired.com \ Winter 2019-20


Meringue Bakery

The almond croissant from Jen Barney at Meringue Bakery is a regular â&#x20AC;&#x201C; and tasty â&#x20AC;&#x201C; option at Bean Juice in La Crosse. Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols


Winter 2019-20 / iloveinspired.com

Jen Barney

Meringue Bakery, Stoddard, WI • meringuecakes.com Wisconsin-based pastry chef and owner of Meringue Bakery Jen Barney catapulted to fame by winning two Food Network Baking Championship titles, including the 2017 Holiday Baking Championship. Since then, she’s been fulfilling custom cake and other direct orders in her home-based commercial kitchen in Stoddard, Wisconsin…and working on the plan for her own brick-and-mortar café! Keep an eye on Meringue’s website for details, and in the meantime, you can get Meringue’s fresh-baked goods daily at Bean Juice Coffee in La Crosse. Oh, and keep an eye on the Food Network again as well – Jen will be on The Big Bake, where her baking team tries to make the biggest, boldest cake in an attempt to win the $10,000 prize!

Q&A with Jen

First memory of baking As a kid, I loved baking. But, instead of pursuing that, I became an art teacher.

Then, I took a 180-degree turn and became a correctional officer. I still baked, though. Between October and December, I would fill a binder with new recipes and creations I would try and deliver to co-workers. When I saw a commercial for culinary school, a lightbulb went off. I realized what was making others happy – my baked creations – might just be my true career path. I enrolled in school three months later. Favorite baking tool A bench scraper. I use it to smooth frosting. Favorite thing about baking I believe baking is an expression of love. I never made the full connection of what I was doing – working as a correctional officer by day and baking for others at night – until I was in culinary school. I just wanted to make people feel happy. Recipe to remember On the Food Network’s Holiday Baking Championship, I adapted a recipe of David Lebovitz, a former pastry chef and cookbook author. With the molasses, cloves, and fresh ginger, this is a holiday hit (see recipe at right).


1 cup mild molasses 1 cup sugar 1 cup neutral oil 2 ½ cups flour 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon ½ teaspoon ground cloves ½ teaspoon ground black pepper 2 teaspoons baking soda 4 ounces fresh ginger, peeled, sliced & finely chopped (or use a grater) 2 eggs, at room temperature Position rack in center of oven. Heat to 350 degrees. Line a 9-inch round cake pan with 3-inch sides, or a 9-inch springform pan, with a circle of fine parchment paper. Mix together the molasses, sugar, and oil. In another bowl, sift together flour, cinnamon, cloves and black pepper. In a small saucepan, bring 1 cup water to a boil. Stir in baking soda, then mix hot water into molasses mixture. Stir in ginger. Gradually whisk the dry ingredients into batter. Add eggs, and continue mixing until everything is thoroughly combined. Pour the batter into prepared cake pan, and bake for about 1 hour, until top of cake springs back lightly when pressed or until a toothpick inserted into center comes out clean. If the top of cake browns too quickly before cake is done, drape a piece of foil over it and continue baking. Cool cake for at least 30 minutes. Run a knife around edge of cake to loosen it from pan. Invert cake onto a cooling rack, and peel off parchment paper. From epicurious.com

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Newburg Vintage

Irene Fishburn

Newburg Vintage Home & Garden and Small Batch Bakery Newburg, Minnesota www.facebook.com/NewburgVintageHomeandGarden

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Bestsellers Mysteries Puzzles Poetry Childrens Books Scandinavian And more!

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Knowledgeable Staff

Open daily! 563-382-4275 • 112 West Water St. Decorah

www.dragonflybooks.com 22

When Glenn and Irene Fishburn retired – she worked as a financial advisor and he worked in hotel maintenance – they were ready for a new adventure. California natives who had moved to Cedar Rapids years ago for their careers, they knew they wanted to stay in the Midwest. When they found a historic 1855 general store for sale, they visited… and bought it on the same day. They renovated, and opened its doors for business in May 2018. The location is a just bit out of the way – Newburg, Minnesota, a town of 12 people, is 60 miles southeast of Rochester and 30 miles north of Decorah – and they’re only open Saturdays and occasional Fridays (check Facebook for current hours). But that hasn’t stopped the community from supporting them or the customers from lining up at the door.

Winter 2019-20 / iloveinspired.com

First memory of baking I grew up watching my mom bake. She used to make cream puffs and weigh every ingredient. Favorite baking tool I love my marble rolling pin. It can be chilled to keep croissants and pastry dough cold.

Favorite thing about baking I love the science of baking. Every time you bake, the results are exactly the same. I also love living above our bakery and store because I can create a new recipe in the middle of the night. Embracing the process Making croissants is a three-day process for us. I start the dough on Wednesday. I add a block of butter and let it rest for eight hours. There’s lots of rolling, resting, and folding. There’s no shortcut. Community impact Customers from surrounding communities – all the way from the Twin Cities – have been supportive and patient. On Saturdays when the bakery opens at 11 am, people are already lined up. We had visions of serving a few customers and sitting on the porch drinking coffee with them. But, we haven’t had time. We’ve had much more support and attention than we anticipated.

Photography by Brittany

Photos courtesy Newburg Vintage

Interested in being a vendor? Email us at events@hotelwinn.com or call 563-382-4164



Jo's Coffee House

Mikki Boyd , the pastry chef at Joâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Coffee House, makes fresh cupcakes, like this red velvet one, daily. Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols

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Winter 2019-20 / iloveinspired.com

Mikki Boyd

Pastry chef at Jo’s Coffee House Spring Grove, Minnesota • joscoffeehouse.com Jo’s Coffee House opened in the fall of 2019 to much excitement in Spring Grove, Minnesota. Built as an addition on Red’s IGA, the grocery store owned by Pat “Red” Longmire, Jo’s is the heart and soul of Jayme Longmire, Pat’s daughter-in-law, and is even named after Jayme and Pat Jr.’s daughter, Josephine. Jayme has cultivated a cool, eclectic vibe at Jo’s, but with a cozy, hometown feel – complete with locally baked treats by Mikki Boyd, Jo’s Coffee House pastry chef. Mikki, previously the bakery manager at Red’s IGA, has helped initiate Free Donut Monday (yes!), Spring Grove-themed sugar cookies, daily cupcakes, and fresh-baked, scratch-made apple pies.

Favorite thing about baking I love creating something. I love the process of coming up with my own recipes – it’s like edible art. And the fact that customers can then enjoy them too is so gratifying.

After your massage... take a breath.


Right now she’s loving The chillier weather has me baking cozyinspired recipes like pumpkin cupcakes with cinnamon cream cheese frosting.



Community impact The community keeps us going. Without their support, the bakery would be nonexistent. We are so incredibly lucky to live here. Our customers are always ready to support local businesses and try something new. Plus, now I have an entire town of taste testers.


Q&A with Mikki

First memory of baking I remember making Thanksgiving pies with my mom when I was about five years old. She taught me a few different ways to crimp the edges of the crust on each one. Afterwards, we’d roll out the leftover dough, cut out shapes, sprinkle them with cinnamon sugar, and bake them for ‘crust cookies.’

Maggie Sonnek loves living in the Driftless Region, where she’s surrounded by local bakeries and yummy treats. When she’s not exploring Southeastern Minnesota, she’s probably at home baking with – and for – her three kids and husband.

Favorite baking tool Electric hand mixer and bench scraper.

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Aryn’s Chocolate Chip Oat Cookies! BY ARYN HENNING NICHOLS


ooking for a winner recipe that allows you to have cookie dough on hand for freshly baked goodness any time? This is my go to, and pretty darn great.

This recipe makes 36-40 small cookie dough balls – I usually bake a few right away, and have about three dozen for the freezer. How to freeze the dough: Simply put a reusable baking liner or parchment paper on a large cookie sheet, scoop out dough balls (I use a small ice cream scoop), and place the whole cookie sheet in the freezer. When they’re frozen, move them to a container for easier storage (we reuse yogurt containers). Then, when you feel like a cookie, you can just pop a few on a cookie sheet and bake – no need to thaw. Voila! Fresh cookies in less than 10 minutes! Because no matter how perfect a recipe, a fresh chocolate chip cookie is better than a day-old one. So, without further ado: the recipe! Preheat oven to 375 Cream together: 1 C brown sugar 1 C white sugar 1 C butter Add 2 eggs and 1 T vanilla. Mix. Mix together dry ingredients (I just add them to the top of the wet dough, but stir up the dry stuff on top before I mix it all into the wet stuff): 1 tsp salt 2 C flour 3 C rolled oats 2 tsp baking soda Stir in 2 C semi-sweet chocolate chips Scoop dough into balls and place on cookie sheet. Bake 8-9 minutes (usually I bake three or four at a time), Allow cookies to rest on pan a couple of minutes then transfer to cooling rack.

Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols

Freeze remainder of dough balls. When ready to bake, preheat oven to 375, place frozen dough balls on cookie sheet, and bake for 8-9 minutes (or until tops are just lightly browned).


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Winter 2019-20 / iloveinspired.com

Together in 2019, we:


Jonah Larson, an 11-year-old crochet prodigy from La Crosse, Wisconsin, has hooked the hearts of the folks across the world. In addition to great video tutorials and inspiration, Jonah, who is adopted, started the organization, Jonahâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Hands, and wrote a book with his mother called Hello, Crochet Friends!


Winter 2019-20 / iloveinspired.com

Photos courtesy Jonahâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s Hands


Dragonfly Books owner Kate Rattenborg introduces



ld soul” is a term that fits 11-year-old Jonah Larson of La Crosse, Wisconsin, to a T…or, perhaps more accurately, a handmade sweater. Not many kids his age are spending nights and weekends crocheting blankets, cowls, and doilies. But for this world-renowned crocheter, honing his trade settled in on the couch next to his mother, Jennifer, is his favorite pastime. “I love to make afghans. Everyone likes to have them to cozy up with and they just remind me of family time. Plus, once you give one to someone, they tend to keep it forever,” says Jonah. After discovering a hook in a box of craft supplies at age five, Jonah looked to YouTube for his crochet education, and quickly became enamored with the process. Born with a generous heart, he loves to make gifts for his family – his mom, his dad Chris, his siblings Leif and Mercy, and his dog Charlie. “The most challenging item I’ve made has been the Wheat Doily that I made for my mom. She grew up on a farm and it reminds her of when she was little,” he says. “Doilies are made from a very thin thread and require a very small hook so they can be challenging to make. I enjoy the challenge and I like the intricacies of them.” (Continued on next page)

formerly The Master’s Touch

104 W Water St, Decorah • 563-382-4430 www.silverbirchdecorah.com ONEOTA VALLEY COMMUNITY ORCHESTRA

Amahl presents

and the

Night Visitors

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An Opera in One Act Directed by Bob Larson Matthew Cody, Music Director

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FRIDAY, JANUARY 10, 2020 7:00 PM SATURDAY, JANUARY 11, 2020 2:30 PM See ovcorchestra.org for ticket information Jonah with the Wheat Doily he made for his mom, Jenn. Photos courtesy Jonah’s Hands

iloveinspired.com \ Winter 2019-20



New No dic Cooking Classes Vesterheim Folk Art School


: Scandinavian C Raft Cocktails

February 15, 2020 4-6 pm with Stephen Larson

Be part of the resurging boom in cocktail parties! Why not learn how to mix some modern Scandinavian cheer for your next gathering of friends? Thank you to the Oneota Co-op for being a community partner, offering a state-of-the-art classroom kitchen facility for our New Nordic Cooking Classes.


: Let’ s Eat and D Rink Togethe R

February 16, 2020 2-6pm with Stephen Larson

Entertaining guests in your home is an important part of the Scandinavian culture, and there’s nothing better than gathering people for a celebration around great food and drink.

Find a full schedule and register online at vesterheim.org

Find everything Scandinavian at . . .

Veste Rheim’ s Museum Sto e R


The National Norwegian-American Museum & Heritage Center

Norwegian cookbooks, kitchen utensils, home décor, folk-art supplies, plus much more! In scenic Decorah, Iowa • store.vesterheim.org • 563-382-9682

His beautifully-crafted wares aren’t just reserved for his family, though. Requests for his creations skyrocketed in early 2019 after a local news story in the La Crosse Tribune brought national attention to his skill. Now people all over the world are raving about his one-ofa-kind items. Jonah’s Hands has a large following on social media (more than 200,000 on Instagram alone!), and the increased media coverage has made Jonah a crochet celebrity. Currently, he doesn’t sell his crocheted products – it’s hard to keep up with only two hands and a busy middle school schedule – but he happily shares his work online through photos and video tutorials posted with the help of his mom. The pair also cowrote an autobiography this year, Hello, Crochet Friends! detailing the power and beauty that Jonah’s craft has brought to the world. You can find the book on his website, jonahshands.com, plus a multitude of t-shirts, pins, patches, bags, and more for the crochet- and Jonahloving crowd. In the past year, he’s made a few famous friends – “Drew Barrymore, Melissa McCarthy and Kelly Clarkson were some of my favorites. They are very kind and feel more like aunts to me now,” says Jonah – and had some exciting adventures. He appeared on the Today Show in April 2019, the Kelly Clarkson show in October, and taught inperson classes and sold handmade items at the flagship Anthropologie store in Philadelphia this past November. Jonah’s had fun with his new A-list friends, but he isn’t ready to make a fulltime career out of crocheting. He has frequently said that he loves the relaxing nature of crocheting and never wants it to feel like work. And though he has other hobbies as well, this one brings him particular joy. Years of practice, in addition to naturally quick fingers, have resulted in many happy fans, and, most importantly, a happy Jonah.  What also makes him happy is being able to earn money for the Ethiopian village where he was born. Adopted at six months old, Jonah has used his crochet skills to give generously to his birthplace. “The best part is raising money for Roots Top: Jonah with his mom, Jennifer Larson. Middle: Jonah in Ethiopia to help the village where I was born. front of a display of his book, Hello, Crochet Friends, which he wrote with his mother. Bottom: Jonah on the set of the I have raised $20,000 via GoFundMe and Kelly Clarkson show. All photos courtesy Jonah’s Hands. selling my items,” he says. “In a few months, a library, in the small, poor rural village where I was born, will be built in my honor with the money I raised. This makes me most happy because I’m an avid reader and now kids that would have been my good friends can have books in their hands and it will open up a whole new world for them.” (Continued on next page)

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I enjoy teaching Anthropologie both kids and adults also pledged $5,000 because it is so to Roots Ethiopia, satisfying to watch designated for the their excitement development of when they master a science lab in a a stitch, and then a school in Jonah’s project,” says Jonah. birth village. He adds, “I was Though only 11, taught via YouTube Jonah has proven to so I also like the have the aspirations idea of teaching of someone via video so folks much older. He’s can re-watch the crocheting like techniques.” crazy, discussing At the end of the future plans day, despite all of his for becoming a various roles, Jonah surgeon, supporting is still just a middle an underserved Jonah recorded a series of video tutorials – six classes – for ¬Annie’s Creative Studio. The classes, school boy who likes community, and designed for beginners, are available at anniescatalog.com/onlineclasses under “Learn to Crochet sports, his siblings, teaching others his with Jonah”. Photo courtesy Jonah’s Hands. and his dog. It’s fun craft.  to be famous, but In addition to videos it’s also fun to be home, surrounded by his family, on his website, Jonah has hosted crochet Follow Jonah’s class online through Annie’s Creative Studio, adventures as a crochet cozied up on his couch, crocheting the day away.  a national online video streaming service prodigy online! Jonah’s that specializes in learning, crafting, and Hands on Instagram Sara Walters is a writer and mom of three. She lives making. “It’s a series of six classes meant & Facebook or at near La Crosse, hometown of the amazingly talented for beginners. I teach them how to put Jonah Larson.  jonahshands.com yarn on a hook and make various stitches.


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Paper Fortune Cookies! These fun Paper Fortune Cookies are filled with positive messages! Perfect for Chinese New Year or any time of year! Give them to friends, family, or anyone you know who needs a little pick-me-up!

step-by-step instructions at


Paper Project! iloveinspired.com \ Winter 2019-20



Play more. Move more. Read more.


1. Support local 2. Support positive business practices. 3. Cut down waste. Buy items with minimal or recyclable packaging, or buy secondhand.

Purchase with purpose

1. Got a negative thought? Go old school, kindergarten-style: Three put-ups for every put-down. 2. Do you have clothes, food, and a roof over your head? Are you healthy? Be grateful. 3. Give yourself more compliments!

Foster a positive attitude

2020 the YEAR of

Live intentionally

Support reputable journalism


to d e . a eed goals e n k s r Ma the stepith you our y n out ss w rk oule it, o ir te ucce W s to wched dar. e 1. ieve tim ally s calen in t n u ach e u o e t p c k th oo loc ms. A it on t B r e 2. drea put lett rs. a d a lf an rse 10 ye u o y r ite 5 o r W 3.

n pla


See tips on page 53

Get organized

See more inspiration on next page

1. Travel 2. Learn a new skill. 3. Make new friends.

Expand your mind

This is the year!

Launch that business!

(or register to vote if you havenâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;t yet, then vote)


Big Ideas!





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ny time there’s a new beginning – like a new year – there’s a feeling of opportunity. Of fresh starts and – in my opinion – big ideas. Big ideas don’t have to mean a total revolution of your life. Little changes can still make a revolutionary difference in your happiness and achieving your goals. Here are a few (big & little) ideas to try as we roll into a new decade.

Foster a positive attitude:

We’ve made this positive news magazine for 12 years now, so it’s safe to say we know a few things about maintaining a positive attitude. That said, we definitely still have rough days and feelings of pessimism and helplessness, especially in this current political and environmental climate. Let’s make this the year we strategize ways to handle those down days. 1. Go old school, kindergarten-style: Three put-ups for every put-down. Got a negative thought? Sit down and write out three positive ones. Continue the cycle until you start to see a shift in your thinking. 2. Look around at what you have, and be grateful. Do you have clothes, food, and a roof over your head? Are you healthy? You’re lucky. Try to take some time and recognize that, and remind yourself of this daily. Consider writing at least one thing you’re grateful for every day. 3. Give yourself more compliments! Everyone has stuff they’re good at. Be proud of your skills and find ways to utilize those talents in your life.

Got some goals? Make a plan!

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Winter 2019-20 / iloveinspired.com

1. Write out the steps you need to take to achieve success. 2. Block out time to work on your dreams. Actually schedule it, and put it on the calendar. 3. Write yourself a letter to open in 5 or 10 years. Imagine what your life looks like in when you have reached your goals, and what you want to remember about where you started.

Big Ideas! Expand your mind

1. Travel. Even a short trip to an area town can help you learn about new people and how they live. 2. Learn something new! Take a class at a local college, arts or conservation organization, museum, or library. 3. Make new friends. Maybe some who have different ideas than your own!

Launch that business!

Check out area grant opportunities or business plan contests to help make it happen. In the Decorah area, note the deadlines for the Winneshiek County Biz Booster Contest and Winneshiek Idea House.

Vote (or register to vote if you haven’t yet, then vote) Sure, making changes in your own life is an important – and worthy – task, but one of the most impactful things you can do in your city, county, state, and nation is vote. Government officials make decisions that affect our lives – we should make an effort to have people we believe in making those choices. www.usa.gov/how-to-vote or www.vote.org


Check out

Purchase with purpose

1. Support local businesses, entrepreneurs, and farmers. 2. Support companies that have positive business practices. 3. Cut down on your waste. Try to buy items that have minimal or recyclable packaging, or buy secondhand.

Support reputable journalism

Go ahead and buy those subscriptions for local and regional media, and the online subscriptions for larger news outlets you trust. In the era of “fake news,” we’ve got to stand behind the great journalists who work so hard to bring facts and important news and events to the public eye. Don’t propagate the notion that journalists can’t be trusted.

Spend less time on your phone

Small Business Development + Business Coaching Services Consultantants specializing in marketing, small business start-ups, agricultural businesses, succession planning, & more. This service is provided to Winneshiek County businesses/entrepreneurs at no cost! Call Stephanie to set up an appointment: 563-382-6061 or director@winneshiekdevelopment.org

Play more. Move more. Read more.

Let’s start this year with a plan for action, never looking back – only looking forward! -Aryn

winneshiekdevelopment.org • 507 W Water St, Decorah iloveinspired.com \ Winter 2019-20

37 • Advice



Children’s book author and illustrator, Arthur Geisert, chats with Inspire(d)’s Kristine Jepsen about editors, small-town life in Elkader, Iowa, and his decades-long career of making beautiful things.

A close-up of a page from Geisert’s book, Thunderstorm. A copy of the 415-foot accordion book is on display at the Dubuque Museum of Art through January 5, 2020. Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols


February 13-16, 2020 "Beyond the Crater" Independent films from around the world for all ages and all interests SCREENINGS & EVENTS WILL BE HELD AT: • Luther College • T-Bock's Upstairs • The Elks Lodge • Main Feature Theater in Waukon See the schedule at oneotafilmfestival.org All screenings & events are FREE for everyone Hosted by Luther College, Decorah, Iowa

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lewis black: it gets better every day co-presented with mammoth live & live nation tuesday, January 28

mandolin orange sponsored by kim schillig, realtor thursday, february 6

mike doughty live at the mill

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Each two-page spread of Geisertâ&#x20AC;&#x2122;s storybooks features hand-colored prints, made from intricate copper-plate etchings. Photo by Kristine Jepsen


Winter 2019-20 / iloveinspired.com

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“Aaarthuh! Aaarthuh!”


hildren’s book author and illustrator Arthur Geisert is chanting his own name, imitating the way his New York-based editor, Walter Lorraine, godfather of children’s literature at Houghton Mifflin, would address him by phone. “The work – it’s good!” Geisert pans, sitting in his art studio in historic downtown Elkader, Iowa. “But we just need to do this one thing! And by the way, how are you?” Lorraine and Geisert teamed up for 30 years, producing nearly a book per year before Lorraine’s retirement in 2007. “Walter always said my name twice, like maybe I wasn’t listening,” Geisert, now in his 70s, recalls with a grin. And just maybe, he really wasn’t listening so much as following the conversation wherever it rambled and meandered. It’s how he sees the world, in real time. “Everything I’ve ever done has been deeply collaborative,” he says of his imaginative work, which debuted in 1984 with the book, Pa’s Balloon and Other Pig Tales. Geisert’s bibliography now includes an entire volume of porcine communication (Oink!), a 415foot accordion print of an approaching tornado (Thunderstorm), and a birds-eye tableau of the joys and calamities common in a turn-of-the-century farm community (Prairie Town). Many books, including the related River Town, Mountain Town, and Desert Town, also feature text by his then-wife, writer and photographer Bonnie Geisert. Whatever their setting, the stories showcase Geisert’s talent for close, immersive observation, creating intricate and complex portraits of rural landscapes and human nature. In Pumpkin Island, published in 2018, for example, an Iowa river town (modeled down to the turrets on his chosen home, Elkader) is taken over when a single, storm-swept pumpkin spawns a townwide epidemic of gourds. This naturally inspires pumpkin-breadbaking and jack-o-lantern carving – but also dangerous projectile pumpkin-smashing with catapults. Meanwhile, some people are dancing. Some are leaning against lamp posts or truck tailgates, just watching. Some are sweeping up the spilled pumpkin guts. In the end, the townspeople stop the mania as simply as it started: They cut the vines and compost the mess to feed next season’s flowers. (Continued on next page)

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Some of the displays at Geisert’s Dubuque Museum of Art exhibit, Tall and Not-So-Tall Tales, span across entire walls. Photo by Kristine Jepsen

“I really don’t know where the ideas come from,” Geisert muses. “Sometimes you have the idea for a book in a week, and sometimes you pull it out of the drawer once a year, decide it’s still a stupid idea, and put it back…. You just never know.” One glance down the galley of his studio/apartment reveals that he is indeed a man who “lives with the work.” Vintage bow ties and paisley-print buttondowns hang to dry alongside drawings for his next book, How the Big Bad Wolf Got His Comeuppance, clothespinned to lines


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Mid-project prototype drawings are mixed in with childhood memorabilia at Geisert’s studio/apartment in historic downtown Elkader, Iowa. Photos by Kristine Jepsen

throughout. Clipped to the drawings are snippets of proposed text of this retelling of The Three Little Pigs, written by Elkader librarian Lisa Wilke Pope. Each two-page spread of Geisert’s storybooks, which have been awarded The New York Times Best Illustrated Children’s Book Award three times, is intentionally light on text, though. The body of the story is told through hand-colored prints, made from intricate copper-plate etchings. Geisert works first on prototype drawings, creating what his current publisher, Claudia Zoe Bedrick (of Brooklyn-based Enchanted Lion Books), calls a “live line.”


“Is there the necessary space between the illustrations and the text – each telling the story at times and also informing the other?” Bedrick asks at a gallery talk at the Dubuque Museum of Art. “Does the line move through time, establishing tempo through page turns, creating moments?” Bedrick joined Geisert, Pope, and Louise Kames, a former student of Geisert’s and current chair of visual and performing arts at Clarke University. The Dubuque Museum of Art is the recipient of Geisert’s lifetime of prints, plates, and other materials, and features an exhibit of Geisert’s work, “Tall and NotSo-Tall Tales” through January 5, 2020. Continued on next page

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1. The stairs leading to Geisert’s exhibit in Dubuque share fun details of what’s to come. Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols 2. Pages from Geisert’s upcoming 2020 book, How the Big Bad Wolf Got His Comeuppance, are cliped with snippets of proposed text of this retelling of The Three Little Pigs, written by Elkader librarian Lisa Wilke Pope. 3. Geisert proudly displays his Confirmed Lutheran shirt. Photos by Kristine Jepsen




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“Then there’s the timeliness,” Bedrick concludes. “We’re always asking, ‘Why this story? Why is it important to tell it now?’” “And don’t forget the chew factor,” Geisert can’t resist adding, flicking a mischievous look at Bedrick. “Kids like to chew on actual books.” Born in Texas and raised in Los Angeles, Geisert learned his craft at the Otis Art Institute, then defected to the Midwest and, many decades later, now considers Iowa (with a grin), “less of a foreign country.” Today he works nearly continuously on book projects, each taking a full year in production and editing. Etching the plates is the touchiest part because mistakes are next to impossible to correct. “There are ways to ‘fix’ a plate – and I’ve done it,” he explains, his focus sharp, “but it’s by far better to get it right the first time.”   When the etchings are complete, magic happens. “As the print comes off the plate, there’s a thin layer of oil-based plate tone on the paper,” Geisert explains. He’s attuned to quality paper, quality ink, and as he talks, he lifts a finished print gingerly, not even so much with his fingertips but along the tenderest parts of his palms. “When you use water colors, the plate tone acts almost like a glaze,” he says, tilting the piece to the natural light filtering in through the front shop window. “Everything sort of glows.”   Geisert’s process is rare in all of modern literature for its precision and expense – easily $10,000 in materials from start to finish, and that doesn’t include the cost of paper towels. “It’s serious!” he retorts. “You wouldn’t believe how many you need when you’re in production!” At the end of the day, Geisert says, the best remedy for scrubbing the oil-based ink from under his fingernails, he’s found, is washing dishes in hot, soapy water.  “The trouble is, I don’t have many dishes,” he explains, chuckling about his current status, living alone. “I eat mostly off newspaper and out of tin cans….”  He’s also a regular at Elkader General Store and More, across the Continued on next page

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street from his apartment. The proprietor, Monica Stence, knows to look for Geisert at 11 am each day, for a cup of one of her homemade soups, sometimes half a sandwich. “She gets upset if I don’t show,” Geisert explains with a smile. “She’ll come looking for me.” This comfortable routine – and dozens of others like it in smalltown Elkader – are what drew Geisert to this town on the Turkey River. “I don’t drive, except to church [Bethany Lutheran], if I can help it,” Geisert says, “so, everything is within walking distance.” He means the bank, the post office, the grocery store, eateries, and more. Geisert walks so much, in fact, that the stray change he picks up on the street each year often exceeds $30. “I go out to Johnson’s [Restaurant & Reception Hall] around Christmas time, for biscuits and gravy with excess bacon,” Geisert explains, “and I leave the whole thing as my tip. I mean, I just picked it up. I figure someone might appreciate it.”

This kind of give-back is Geisert’s way of showing gratitude for what small-town Iowa gives him: his story subjects and a rich life within steps of his front door. But as soon as the warm sentiment settles, he’s back on cue, irreverent candor at the ready. “Remember!” he proclaims in closing – his favorite flourish: “Part of what I said is actually true!”  

Geisert’s studio/apartment building in Elkader, Iowa. Photo by Kristine Jepsen

From our family to yours, wishing you a

Merry Christmas!

Kristine Jepsen is a grant/writer, editor, and farm business owner in Northeast Iowa, as well as a counselor with her local Small Business Development Center. Her writing appears in literary journals and anthologies, including the forthcoming Contours compilation celebrating the tenth anniversary of the Driftless Writing Center. Her chapbook, Jaw Wiring: What You Need to Know, won the 2019 flash nonfiction competition at Sweet: A Literary Confection and has been nominated for a Pushcart Prize. She wants to be Arthur Geisert when she grows up.

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Local Reads for Winter Nights NONFICTION

Looking for some great – and local – books to add to your reading list this winter? Our friends at Dragonfly Books in Decorah put together a little list of what’s stocked on their shelves this season. Make the most of this “snuggle up with a book” season with these awesome regional reads!

Lori Erickson‘s Near the Exit: Travels with the Not-so-grim Reaper (spiritual); published August 2019

FICTION David Faldet‘s King (Christian theme, mystery); published February 2019

Decorah Authors!

Allen Esken‘s Nothing More Dangerous (crime, coming-of-age story); published November 2019

Benjamin Percy‘s Suicide Woods (horror, story collection); published regionally October 2019 Nicole Helget‘s The End of the Wild (environmental regional issues, fracking, young adult); published June 2018

Amy Weldon‘s Eldorado, Iowa (historical); published April 2019

William Kent Krueger‘s This Tender Land (NYT best-seller by regional author, historical); published September 2019 J. Ryan Stradal‘s The Lager Queen of Minnesota (fiction with regional themes, about Blatz and Artemis breweries); published July 2019 Eliza Wheeler‘s Home in the Woods (children’s fiction, picture book, historical); published October 2019

Bathsheba Demuth‘s Floating Coast: An Environmental History of the Bering Strait (environmental history); published August 2019

Matthew Miller‘s Fishing Through the Apocalypse (environmental history); published March 2019

Trine Hahnemann‘s Scandi Bites (cookbook of sweet Scandi treats); published October 2019

Kenneth Kraegel‘s Wild Honey from the Moon (children’s fiction, picture book, modern); published November 2019


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Let's Get Organized!



Michelle Whitehill of Personally Organized, works on organizing small, miscellaneous items. Photo by Sara Friedl-Putnam


Winter 2019-20 / iloveinspired.com



Sum of Your Business: Michelle Whitehill – Personally Organized INTRODUCTION & INTERVIEW BY SARA FRIEDL-PUTNAM Open by appointment Tues-Sat: 563.379.7583 - 930 Division St. Cresco, IA

DECORAH, IOWA There’s clutter, and then there’s clutter.

In this current era where “kondo-ing” has become a verb (after Marie Kondo, Netflix decluttering guru and best-selling author of The Life Changing Magic of Tidying Up), the notion of minimizing to maximize life is well known – and, as many will agree – totally true. This writer can attest to that. Not so long ago, the clutter in my basement had gotten so out of control it verged on hoarding territory. Think dozens of empty boxes stacked (askew) five feet in the air, items of all shapes and sizes squeezed haphazardly into any spot that would accommodate them, and space so filled with decades-old stuff that walking through it involved ducking and other contortions. This is no exaggeration. I still marvel at the fact that today my storage area is neatly organized, with the items that survived a tough vetting process tucked into labeled storage totes stacked on sturdy custom-made shelves (shout out to local handyman Ward Budweg!). The remarkable transformation is due in no small part to the time I spent working side-by-side with Michelle Whitehill, founder and owner of Personally Organized in Decorah.  Since launching Personally Organized in 2007, Michelle has helped countless people (like me!) sort through their belongings, determine what they really need to keep (and what they can toss, give away, or recycle), and organize the items that remain in an easily accessible way. “Life gets in the way, things accumulate, and then people don’t know where to start,” says Michelle. “Beginning to declutter feels overwhelming to them, and that’s where I can help.” Organizing has always come naturally to Michelle, who grew up in Decorah, graduated from Luther College with a bachelor’s degree in business management in 1991, and went on to serve first as Continued on next page



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assistant manager and then manager of RC 10 Racquet and Health Club for 15 years until it closed its doors in May 2006. The club’s closure provided the impetus for Michelle to launch Personally Organized. Over the last 12 years, she has worked one-on-one with people in and beyond Decorah to help them declutter, downsize, redesign, and/or organize their home or office spaces. She asks the tough questions, provides clarity to the organizational process, and keeps that process going when it feels easier just to stop or move on to something else.   “My goal is always to help my clients live and work more effectively and efficiently,” says Michelle. “I want them to spend more time using or enjoying their belongings and less time looking for them. I also want them to feel more confident in their own organizational skills than when I first walked through their door.”

organizing fitness spaces and equipment, and putting together racquetball leagues and tournaments. In 2006, the owners decided to close. I wasn’t sure what to do next, but my sister-in-law, who was living in the Twin Cities at the time, said that “personal organizing” businesses were becoming popular in that area and suggested I start one here in Decorah. I have always been super-organized so I thought it was a great idea.

The Basics: Name: Michelle Whitehill Age: 50 Business: Personally Organized Years in Business: 12 years Contact info: 563-380-9219 mwhitehill@centurylink.net

2. What’s the best thing about being your own boss? By far the best thing about running my own business is the flexibility of setting my own hours. Right up there, though, is being able to work closely with clients and complete a project without clearing details with anyone but that person – in other words, I love the fact that I don’t have to deal with any “red tape.” 3. How about the worst? Billing my clients – I love the work, but I hate sending the bill! 4. Was there ever a hurdle where you just thought, “I can’t do this?” How did you overcome it? No, not really. From the start, I have tackled it as I would any other job, but

1. Tell us about the “leap” moment. When/how did you decide to jump in and become your own boss? I had been managing RC 10 Racquet and Health Club since graduating from Luther – scheduling classes,

Continued on next page

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there were times that I was pretty busy juggling this business with raising my twin daughters and working as a tour coordinator for Vesterheim Norwegian-American Museum. (I “retired” from that job in 2016.) I think it has helped a lot that there’s very little financial overhead involved as I work out of my home and purchase the products I need for a given project as the client needs them.

7. How do you manage your life/work balance? Because my hours are flexible, I’m still able to find time to do other things I enjoy. I love to be outdoors, exercise, and just spend time with my family and friends. I also love to travel, and, yes, I am always the one who plans the trips!

5. Any mentors/role models you look to/ have looked to? My parents – they are both very organized and always have been. Whenever I needed something for a school project, my mom always knew right where it was – their home wasn’t necessarily always spotless, but everything always had its space. My brother is very organized too. I guess it runs in our blood! 6. What’s the one thing you wish you had known before you started? How much fun it would be – if I had known that, I might have started Personally Organized earlier. I’ve done everything from organizing kitchen and bathroom cabinets to helping people declutter entire homes in advance of a move. I’ve even redesigned living spaces and planned events. And every client I have had has been so appreciative. Everyone has their gifts, and this is mine – to be able to share my organizational skills and feel appreciated for that is really rewarding.

8. What keeps you inspired? Any quotes that keep you going? When RC 10 closed, I was devastated. And then a friend shared a quote with me: “If nothing ever changed, there would be no such things as butterflies.” I look back, and that is so true. And taking that to heart helped me move on and figure out what to do next. What keeps me going 12 years later is how appreciative my clients are. For many of them, life has just gotten in the way, the clutter has snowballed, and then they don’t know where to start. I love helping them get past that point so that they can live more efficiently and have more time to enjoy the things and people they love.

Sara Friedl-Putnam is eternally grateful to Michelle Whitehill for helping her organize her basement storage area, which was almost inaccessible due to clutter.

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limit your time 1. Limit organizing and sorting activities to no more than two or three hours at a time. This process is taxing not only physically but also mentally. I have found that my clients start “checking out” at about three hours and tend not to be able to make reasonable decisions after that point.

What’s enough? 2. Think about what “enough” means to you. Today’s world is filled with so many opportunities to purchase new things. There’s always going to be the latest trend in clothing, new home décor, or a cool, must-have gadget. Also, how many coffee cups, reusable water bottles, or scissors do you realistically need? Figure out what enough means to you and then stand by your decision.

make a plan 3. Start with the “heart-ofhome” rooms first – the kitchen, bathrooms, bedrooms, and laundry room – because they have the most clutter, contain items for everyday use, and (typically) have items with the least emotional attachment.

start with what’s in view 4. In each room, begin with what you can see – spaces like countertops and desktops. Then move to the drawers and cabinets, putting like items together and in the area of the home that you are going to use them. By grouping similar items, you will see how many of each item you own and be better able to decide what is “enough.”

rip off the band-aid 5. Sort your belongings into five piles: keep, give to family/friends, donate/recycle, sell, and discard. Avoid the “undecided” pile – it only adds extra time and just makes decisions harder. It really is best to go ahead and rip off the Band-Aid.

today is the best day to start! 6. There is no time like the present. Get started today!

You've got this! iloveinspired.com \ Winter 2019-20




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deally, winter has a healthy balance of cozying up inside with books, friends, and snacks and getting out in the world for fun, exercise, and socialization. But sometimes the latter can feel a little tough to accomplish. So many layers! So much cold! But there are lots of cool (haha) things you can do to stay active. Take fun on ice, for example. Ever tried curling? Learn more about it on the next page! How about broomball? It sounds like so much fun to us – you can see for yourself on page 60! Ever planned a Sledding Party? You should – they are a blast! Check out our tips for hosting one on page 64. Whatever you do, have a great time and make the most of the season. Winter could last half the year! We may as well try to enjoy it!

Ice climbing

Feeling adventurous? Check out the Ice Park in Winona, Minnesota. If you’re new to the sport, you can hook up a guide through Big River Climbing Guides (www.bigriverclimbingguides. com). www.cityofwinona.com/city-services/parks-recreation/ ice-climbing-wall/ In Wisconsin, contact Vertical Adventure Guides to get started – there are climbing areas (real frozen waterfalls!) at Governor Dodge State Park, Wyalusing State Park, and more. verticaladventure.org/ice-climbing


Winter 2019-20 / iloveinspired.com

Winter! Roxie and Aryn made this snow woman last winter - isn’t she the best?! Photo by Aryn Henning Nichols

Running Clubs

Check around for a local running or hiking club – it’s a great way to meet new people and take in the beauty of the area. If it’s icy, invest in some traction cleats for your boots or shoes, and keep on truckin’.


now – like him to get some winterLove the snow loving inspiration! like “Dibs the #SnowKitty”! Some snow play you could try: This Northeast Snow angels Iowa kitty is a bit Snow forts of a local celeb Snowmen (or women!) after a video of Snowshoeing him absolutely Snowball fight! loving the snow Photo: Facebook Dibs the #SnowKitty went viral (nearly 60,000 views as of this printing). It was shared on thedodo.com, along with other Read on for more media outlets, and of course, social media. Dibs inspiration! the #SnowKitty has a Facebook page of his own iloveinspired.com \ Winter 2019-20


A New Way

to Curl Up this season BY SARA WALTERS


hen winter really starts to set in, all you want to do is get together with friends for some broomstacking after a long go-round on ice. Right? Wait, what? Ah… clearly it’s time you learned about curling. For many in the Driftless, curling is a Winter Olympic sport, viewed on snowy nights every four years. But for some, perfecting the skill and strategy of sliding the “stone”– a roughly 40-pound granite rock made specifically for curling – down the ice, sweeping it’s path toward a bullseye, it’s a weekly winter activity.

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The La Crosse Curling Club practices at the Green Island Ice Arena. All ages and abilities are encouraged to come and try it out! Photos courtesy La Crosse Curling Club

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Members of the La Crosse Curling Club in La Crosse, Wisconsin, fall into the latter category. They participate in leagues from October to March, practicing regularly and occasionally competing in bonspiels, aka curling tournaments. Curlers like David Reutlinger fell into the sport by doing the former – watching curling on TV. “After the last Winter Olympics, there was a huge increase in TV coverage. I am retired and I was looking for something to do in the winter. My daughter, Laura, lives in the La Crosse area and had seen a Learn to Curl event in the winter La Crosse Park and Recreation brochure. So we decided to sign up,” David, who lives in Decorah, explains. These Learn to Curl events are helping folks like David and Laura find a way to beat the boredom of winter months. Instructors are happy to teach the game, offering a Learn to Curl session each October and curling events for all ages during La Crosse’s Winter Rec Fest in late January. Participants come from all over the Driftless – from Lanesboro, New Albin, Decorah, and beyond. David says that although weather occasionally causes him some travel issues, he and Laura have stuck with it, playing through all of winter 2018 and participating in the club’s 2019 bonspiel.  The La Crosse Curling Club first began in 1914 as an outdoor club on the natural ice of the La Crosse River. Later, they moved indoors, spending many years curling in the horse barn at the La Crosse Fairgrounds and at the Northside Industrial Park. But after decades of successful curling practices and bonspiels, the Northside location closed in 1998. Luckily, in 2010 a dedicated group reconstituted the

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La Crosse Curling Club, moved it into its new location at Green Island Ice Arena, and established a full schedule of curling opportunities. Members of the La Crosse Curling Club have gone on to curl on the 1998 US Olympic Team in Nagano, Japan; served as the Sport Administrator for Curling in the 2002 Olympic Winter Games in Salt Lake City; and curled on the Senior Men’s National Championship Team. In recent years, they have had both men’s and women’s teams represent the club and state at the Arena National Championship. “Shortly after the La Crosse Curling Club was reconstituted in 2010, a friend invited our son to try curling,” says La Crosse Curling Club president Chris Hofland. “We accompanied him and also gave it a try. We were not very good our first season, but after the first year we were hooked.” Part of the appeal is that curling is for all. Based in skill, sportsmanship, and tradition, any age and ability can play. “Curling draws people from all walks of life. Our club has students, retirees, farmers, factory workers, and professionals – it is not uncommon to have teenagers playing with, or against, curlers in their 60s or 70s,” says Chris. “A person’s height, strength or speed is not integral to competitive play. People in wheelchairs or who are hearing impaired can all enjoy curling. As long as a player is able to push the stone down the ice alone, or with an assistive device, he or she can curl.”  Throwing the stone itself doesn’t take much strength, but curling can still be a great cardiovascular workout. “Vigorous sweeping can be like a 20-second sprint and over the course of a game, a player can walk well over a mile,” Chris explains. “It is an enjoyable sport that can help people stay in shape in the winter.”  It also requires some complex strategy – which is why curling is often called “chess on ice” – but it’s the camaraderie that keeps a lot of curlers coming back for more, especially in the cabin-fever

months of winter. “One of the great traditions in curling is that after a match, both teams sit together and socialize,” says Chris. This is called “broomstacking” and often takes place over a beverage. “It allows groups of people from very different socioeconomic backgrounds to get to know each other. It also fosters intergenerational connections within the community.” The La Crosse Curling Club continues to build their community and they’re always welcoming new members. As far as Chris is concerned, it’s the best part. “What I enjoy most about curling… is the people that curl.”  

Learn more: La Crosse Curling Club

www.lacrossecurlingclub.com The league practices at the Green Island Ice Arena in La Crosse October – March: Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday evenings leagues and Thursday morning pick-up league. The annual La Crosse Open Bonspiel is in August.

More curling in the Region Curling Club of Rochester, Minnesota www.curlrochester.com

The Curling Club of Rochester, founded in 2017, has fall, winter, and spring leagues and hosts two bonspiels each year. The club practices on arena ice at the Rochester Recreation Center. If you are new to curling, check out the Club’s regular “Curling and Cocktails” learning events, where attendees learn how to throw a curling stone, how to sweep, and how to call shots. Then “broomstack” with teammates and opponents at Glynner’s Pub, located across the street from the rec center – the first round of drinks and light appetizers are included in the fee. See curlrochester. website for details.

Upcoming ROCHESTER Bonspiels include:

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for a dedicated curling facility in Rochester, Minnesota. There is guarantee of three games and meals and entertainment are included. Don a superhero costume and save the day! Froth, Frost & Flannel Outdoor Bonspiel The 2nd annual Froth, Frost & Flannel Outdoor Bonspiel will be in February 2020. Details TBD. Watch curlrochester.website for Bonspiel details.

The Centerville Curling Club in Galesville, Wisconsin

– where the Curling Club of Rochester hosts its Bonspiels – was established in 1947. They’ve got an active club with lots of bonspiels throughout winter: • January 17-19: Senior Open Bonspiel “Tailgatin’ with the Oldies.” The age of each team must equal at least 200 years • January 31-February 2: Women’s Sippy Bonspiel “Wine a little... You’ll Curl better!!” • February 7-9: Modified Mixed Bonspiel “Brooms, Brews and BBQs.” Each team must have one male and one female. • February 21-23: Men’s Bonspiel “Barn Burner Classic” • February 29: Stick Bonspiel Open to men and women, all curlers must deliver stones with a stick. Visit the Centerville Curling Club website for a wealth of tips and videos for beginning curlers. centervillecurlingclub.com

Mark Your Calendars:

USA Curling’s top event, the Men’s and Women’s National Championships, will take place in Cedar Rapids February 6-13, 2021, marking the first time the Nationals has even been in Iowa! The weeklong national event features the top men’s and women’s teams

in the country, and helps determine Team USA for the subsequent World Championships. The 2021 World Women’s Championship will take place in Switzerland while the 2021 World Men’s Championship heads to Canada. The 2020 Nationals are taking place in February in Spokane, Washington.

Common Curling Terms Bonspiel – A curling competition or tournament. Brush – A device used to sweep the ice in the path of a moving stone. Burned stone – A stone in motion touched by a member of either team, or any part of their equipment. Burned stones are removed from play. Button – The circle at the center of the house. Counter – Any stone in the rings or touching the rings which is a potential point. Guard – A stone that is placed in a position so that it may protect another stone. Hacks – The foot-holds at each end of the ice from which the stone is delivered. Hammer – The team with the last stone in any given end of play. The 16th delivered stone in any end is called the “Hammer” Heavy – A rock delivered with a greater force than necessary. House – The rings or circles toward which play is directed consisting of a 12-foot ring, 8-foot ring, 4-foot ring and a button. Lead – The first player on a team to deliver a pair of stones for his/her team in each end. Raise – When one stone is bumped ahead by another. Second – The curler who delivers the second pair of stones for his/her team in each end. Skip – The player who determines the strategy, and directs play for the team. The skip delivers the last pair of stones for his/her team in each end. Sweeping – The action of moving a broom or brush back and forth in the path of a moving stone. Take out – Removal of a stone from the playing area by hitting it with another stone. Third, vice-skip or mate – The third player on a team to throw two stones in each end. Generally this player acts as the skip when the skip is delivering his/her stones and assists with shot selection decisions. Weight – The amount of force given to the stone during the delivery. Source: curling.ca




Let’s get outside for winter fun!




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Looking for more fun-you’ve-never-tried on ice? Check out the sport of broomball! Have you ever seen a group of friends scrambling around on an ice skating rink, brooms in hand, whacking a Dollar Store rubber ball across the ice? Chances are you witnessed a local broomball game. (That or an angry group of witches…) Broomball is similar to hockey – two teams with sticks (or in this case, brooms) maneuver to try and score into the opponent’s net – but in place of traditional skates, sticks, and puck, you use regular shoes (or boots), brooms, and a ball. “It’s pretty low-budget and resourceful, but the brooms get wild: Aside from the standard corn broom, we’ve seen deckscrubbers, big wide shop brooms, even a swiffer sweeper or two as a joke,” says

Jesse Mulert, one of the organizers of the Broomball Players of Decorah. “I’m eternally in search of the perfect broom and am always chopping, taping, reshaping, trying different handles, trying different weights.” He, along with fellow broomballers Steffen Mirsky and Megan Buckingham, plan pick-up games at the Decorah ice skating rink– a basketball court that’s flooded each winter by the local Park Rec. “I’ve played on lakes, ponds, hockey rinks, snow-and-ice packed roads, and even the Upper Iowa River,” Megan says. “At one point I played in an organized league, complete with teams, official broomball shoes, and regulation ‘brooms.’ But broomball really shines as a pick-up game, and, for the most part, that’s how I prefer to play.” In pick-up or backyard style broomball, you don’t have to reach a specific number of people to play, and the teams

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switch up regularly so that each player gets a chance to shine. “Between 10 and 14 people is best. Too few and you’ll be running your tail off,” Jesse says. “Too many and it looks like a 1st grade soccer game – a bunch of people whacking blindly just hoping to connect.” So when the weather looks good (“Ice – yes! Life-sustaining conditions – also optimal!” Megan says) they set a time and date for a game, and put out a call for players over a listserv and on a Broomball Players of Decorah Facebook Group. The only rules of the game are no high sticks (above the waist) and no hands except to bring the ball down (except for the goalie). Sometimes colored headbands are useful so you can tell who is on which team, but the Decorah broomballers never keep score anyway. “When I was a kid, I didn’t live in a neighborhood that had a pick-up game culture, and I was always longing for that,” Jesse

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says. “I’m making up for those lost games now. Running around in the cold, scrambling, and laughing, and slipping, spending time with my friends and making new ones – those are experiences that we’ve often lost as adults. So I count myself doubly lucky: I get back missing parts of both my childhood and my adulthood. I also get in a pretty good workout and at the end, beer.” The Decorah rink is located across the street from Pulpit Rock Brewing, where the crew heads to warm up and chill out after playing. It’s not all fun and games though – injuries can happen, and running around on ice is not an easy task. “The worst parts are the hard falls and the debilitating soreness after the first few games of the season,” Steffen says. “We haven’t had any major injuries to date, but it is a little worrying,” Megan continues. “I think we may start to more strongly encourage helmets this year!”

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Are you looking to start or join a broomball group in your community? Here’s some advice:

Steffen: Do it! You’ll never laugh so hard in your life. Jesse: Don’t worry about whether it’s cold or snowing. The secret to winter is to have something that gets you outside and moving. Halfway through a game you’ll stop for a team change, feeling young and alive in your body, forgetful of your everyday concerns, quiet and peaceful in the snow, and feel like you could stay there forever – not realizing




Photos courtesy Eric Phillips

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it’s 5 degrees and Photo courtesy Jesse Mulert you’re down to just a flannel. It’s beautiful in that place and makes me love living here. Winters aren’t a thing I dread anymore – It’s either broomball day or days between. By March, I’m always surprised how fast it flew by and sad that the ice is all gone. Megan: Be welcoming and adaptable. Try games at different times. Invite everyone. If you can, find ice that’s consistently available (ideally with hockey goals, though you an also make your own…). Play at night if you can find ice with lights on it. Try backyard style broomball that adapts easily to changing weather, and doesn’t require teams to field enough players on any given game day. Make sure your local hardware store is well-stocked in brooms.




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Anything else? Come play with us! If you don’t have a broom (looking at you, college students) we’ve usually got a few to spare. Anyone, regardless of their age, athleticism, or skill can have fun playing. You can find us on Facebook at Broomball Players of Decorah, or visit tinyurl.com/decorahbroomball to sign up for our listserv. Aryn Henning Nichols loves the idea of broomball – especially the fun community and camaraderie created within it! We’ll see if she makes it to a game this season to try it out!

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How to Throw a


Photos by Aryn Henning Nichols

1. Invite friends. Tell them to bring: • Sled • Winter gear • A snack to share • An extra pair of socks, just in case


Winter 2019-20 / iloveinspired.com


ne of our favorite things to do in the winter is host a neighborhood sledding party. This hill is just up the alley from our house and is perfect for zipping down the snow – and it’s great to be able to walk home after for a little warm-up and some muchneeded socialization. Not near a hill yourself? It’s okay - ask your local Park Rec about a communnity sledding hill you can use, then just drive to your house after for winter fun. It’s as easy as 1, 2, 3!


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2. At home outside…

Get the firepit and patio furniture out for the day! • Find a good spot for your crew to gather around while the kids (or kids at heart) keep playing in the snow • Get s’mores supplies – graham crackers, marshmallows, chocolate bars, roasting sticks. You could get fancy with crushed candy canes too – just sprinkle on the roasted marshmallow before you smush the top graham cracker on! • Get hot chocolate and/or hot coffee ready in the thermos • Put out snacks that are easy to eat with gloves on

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Margaret Cornelia (Hammell) Blake Interviewed by granddaughter Rebecca Manning


argaret Cornelia Blake, 93, loves spending time with her family – that include 13 kids, 48 grandchildren, 69 greatgrandchildren, and 19 great- great- grandchildren (as of November 2019 – there are four more great grand babies due in spring of 2020). She has a truly unique story to tell with raising 13 children on her own after losing her husband, Patrick John Blake, to a farming accident. She was always working on the farm – she could carry four posts up a hill at a time – liked to name dogs Bozo, and has been known to have a lead foot when driving, “She has been our family’s rock, and still has a home between Dorchester and Highlandville, Iowa, where she is very active with her gardening, canning, sewing, quilting, and attending countless family events. She has been an inspiration with her hard work and the huge heart she has for her family. She is something special.” – Rebecca. What’s the best advice anyone ever gave you? Pray What did you want to be when you grew up? I wanted to be like my older sister Mary my whole life. I then married my sister’s brother-in-law Patrick Blake and also had 13 children just like my sister did. What do/did you do? I was a school teacher at a one room school house near the Iowa River Road when I was 17 years old. I started off with only three children of different ages, and by the time I left the school I had 19 children I was teaching. I was pregnant at the time and once the baby (Connie) was born, I stayed home to raise my kids. If you were stranded on a desert island, what three things would you want with you? Food, water, and my family. If you could eat anything every day for the rest of your life, what would it be? Oatmeal every morning. Name one thing you could not live without: Food

Do you know someone you’d love to interview for this page? Let us know! aryn@iloveinspired.com

Tell us about your wedding day. We got married in the morning in New Albin, Iowa, April 25, 1944. I made my own wedding dress. We went to La Crosse, Wisconsin, for lunch and to have professional pictures done. Our best man (my brother Walter Hammell) and maid of honor (my sister-inlaw Francis Blake) rode along with us, and we had a celebration when we returned. Favorite memories from family: Rebecca Manning (granddaughter): Hearing grandma hollering “HELP!” from the backyard and we would come running immediately, only to find out she just needing help picking vegetables or pulling weeds in the garden. Molly Brodahl (granddaughter): She would always ask me to stay the night with her and when I wasn’t sure if I wanted to, she’d start fake crying to get me to stay. Kimberly Ball (granddaughter): She gave me a sympathy card for my wedding! I still have it. She must have thought the picture on the outside was beautiful, and never read the inside (or at least I hope that is what happened). So on my wedding day she was ‘sorry for my loss’!

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You: Have winter fun! We: Protect your eyes! There’s no reason your foresight can’t be 2020: Make an appointment to learn how to keep your eyes safe and healthy! + Watch for upcoming events – Oneota Valley Family Eye Care is Celebrating the Gift of Sight in 2020! 9:30-5:30 MON 7:30-7:00 TUES & THURS 7:30-5:30 WED & FRI 24 HR EMERGENCY CARE 305 East Water St. Decorah, Iowa • 563-382-4279

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Inspire(d) Winter 2019-20  

Q&A with 5 Driftless Bakers: Sassy Baker • Fayette Sweets • Meringue Bakery • Newburg Vintage • Jo’s Coffee House – Jonah’s Hands, Paper For...

Inspire(d) Winter 2019-20  

Q&A with 5 Driftless Bakers: Sassy Baker • Fayette Sweets • Meringue Bakery • Newburg Vintage • Jo’s Coffee House – Jonah’s Hands, Paper For...