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L ive it! Turning Your

Passion Into a

Paycheck Time to Prioritize

Mental Health DIY

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Blogging …

g a b l i Ma

Blogging is defined as: adding new material to or regularly updating a blog, which is writings about an event, situation, topic or something along those lines. For some people it provides an opportunity to write about something they are passionate about – an opportunity they probably were not provided before. But, as someone who spends most of my day on a computer, writing and editing, planning and researching, it seems more like “one more thing to have to do.” I’ve always thought of it more as a hobby, and when it comes to hobbies, there are plenty of other things I would rather do – something I don’t already spend a good share of my time doing. However, for some, it can turn into a full-time job. It’s running your own business from your home/office and making good money at it. In this issue, Carolyn introduces us to three local food bloggers, all at different stages of success. They share with us the commitment it takes to become a successful blogger, as well as what all else goes into blogging – it’s way more than just making food and sharing your recipes online with others. In our Q&A section, Brittany also shares with us a few tips/tricks of what it takes to be successful promoting and marketing your blog or other services, including on social media. Spring brings new life, inspiration and a freshness to things – perhaps enough so that Ron, our Spirits guy, will pick up where he left off with his blog years ago. Or, maybe it’s enough that he writes for us here. Our DIY writer, Lu, makes old postcards new again by making her own personalized greeting cards, and in our money section we learn about healthy portfolios. Also on a more serious note, with what’s happening in the world around us today – and hitting too close to home – we recognize the need for open discussions on mental health. Check it all out here. As always, we hope you enjoy this edition of Live it! Magazine. If you have a topic you’d like to see in Live it!, send your story ideas to liveit@ We love to hear from our readers. You can also “like” us on Facebook or send us a tweet @Liveitmag. Life in west central Minnesota … it really is a beautiful thing …

! t i Live

Sharon Bomstad Live it! Editor

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Watch for our next issue out June 1, 2018. May we publish your letter?

Comments we receive: I love this magazine. Always look forward to reading the interesting articles especially Claudette Larson’s column! - Mona Hoffman-Nichols, via facebook Thanks for connecting with me! I really enjoy Live it! Magazine which is how I found you … - Jackie Kaufenberg, via Linked In

On Feb./March cover story: You have fun and interesting articles featuring people around the area. I enjoyed your recent issue on women firefighters. It is interesting to see how people in the area are challenging stereotypes and living their dreams. - Sarah Brouwer, Raymond True to life. These three women work extremely hard on our department and represent the fire service very well. - Frank Hanson, Willmar Fire Chief

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Editor’s note: We love to hear from our readers. “Like” us on Facebook, send us a tweet with your comments or even a new story idea, or email us at liveit@ Watch for our next issue due out June 1, 2018.

Live it! Magazine 3


Can’t Live without it! A publication of the West Central Tribune


Sharon Bomstad

Magazine Editor To contact Live it! call 320-235-1150 or email

Writing & Photography Carolyn Lange Erica Dischino Lu Fransen Kenzie Tenney

Marketing Consultants Christie Steffl, Advertising Manager

Jan Queenan

Jennifer Penoyer

Lu Fransen

Cindy Warne

Stephanie Peterson

To advertise, call 320-235-1150 fax 320-235-6769 or email a listed consultant.

Administration Steven Ammermann, Publisher Kelly Boldan, Editor

2208 W. Trott Ave., Willmar MN 56201 Volume 7, Issue 2

Copyright Š 2018 West Central Tribune Live it! magazine All rights reserved. Although some parts of this publication may be reproduced and reprinted, we require that prior permission be obtained.

Cover Story Food blogs turn into full-time jobs


April 2018, Volume 7, Issue 2



Blogging can be big business


Q&A: Marketing your business


Flexibility, diversification needed


Keeping the flame alive


DEPARTMENTS 3 READER’S MAILBAG What we hear 16 READ IT! Community read event 17 STYLE IT! Back to the Basics 18 DO-IT-YOURSELF Giving cards a personal touch 20 MONEY MATTERS Are your finances healthy?


22 SPIRITS Finishing what we start 24 BLOG IT! Foodies share their recipes 28 LIFE HAPPENS Mental health

discussions needed

30 WHAT’S HAPPENING? Mark your calendars


PHOTOGRAPHY BY Erica Dischino 6 Live it! Magazine

FOODIES Blogging from the kitchen can be a profitable career By Carolyn Lange


here’s nothing like a photograph of a luscious dessert placed in front of a clever backdrop of an old-fashioned flour sifter, a hazy, out-of-focus lemon and linen cloth placed in an artfully oh-so-haphazard-way to get your finger to stop while scrolling through Facebook or Pinterest. It’s an enticement that’s hard to resist, which is exactly what food bloggers are hoping. A click or a tap on a tempting-looking photo not only lets a blogger know people are looking at their recipes but it also means the blogger is earning money through a variety of ad-related avenues on their blogs. The idea of developing recipes, baking and cooking what you love to eat, photographing

your creations and getting paid at the same time may seem like a dream job. While some bloggers have made the transition from part-time hobby to a full-time job and earn a handsome living, it is not easy. Reaching that financial level of independence takes time, creativity, credibility and a willingness to take risks. And it takes a keen understanding – not just of food – but of the internet, social media, algorithms, advertising networks and influence marketing. Live It! spent time with three women in various stages of their food blog careers to learn about their journeys in food, photography, blogging and entrepreneurial independence. Live it! Magazine 7

Christine Rooney The Rustic Foodie, New London


hristine Rooney carefully spoons flour into a bowl and grates fine shavings from a fragrant nutmeg seed on top. She then whisks together milk, eggs and a whiskey- and cream-based Irish liqueur into another earth-toned pottery bowl in her kitchen and carries it all upstairs to her studio where the ingredients for her Bailey’s and Chocolate Glazed Doughnuts are photographed. Next, she mixes the dry and wet ingredients together for another set of photos, and after piping the sticky batter into the doughnut tins, there are more photos – including one that has a dribble of dough left on the bridge of the pan that lets a baker know you don’t have to be perfect to make this recipe. Her final photo features a close-up of homemade doughnuts with a glistening Irish cream-laced chocolate glaze. Yum. The series of photos gives an authentic feel to Christine’s blog, “The Rustic Foodie,” which includes photos that are more like works of art featur-

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“I want people to feel like they can make the food and sort of take the mystery out of it.” - Christine Rooney ing what she calls “down to earth” food that is “simply elevated.” Fueled with memories of her grandmother making food from scratch, a love for cooking with items plucked from the garden and a decade spent living in a multicultural community in the Twin Cities where she smelled, ate and cooked an eclectic array of foods, Christine launched her blog two years ago from her home in New London, where she now lives with her husband. “It was a very steep learning curve,” Christine said. One of the first steps was learning about technology and security and “making sure your site doesn’t crash or get hacked.” Getting content on the blog was the next step. As a freelance photographer, Christine specialized in nature photography. She quickly discovered that taking photos of food was a new challenge. Many bloggers just photograph the finished product, but Christine includes photos that show the ingredients and several steps in the cooking process. That takes more time, but she said showing the process is helpful for people, including those learning to cook. “I want people to feel like they can make the food and sort of take the mystery out of it,” she said. She’s now learning how to create and edit videos for her blog.

Short, overhead videos that show disembodied hands adding ingredients, stirring, frying and presenting a finished product are very popular on social media and can bring new viewers and revenue to bloggers. The revenue aspect has many layers that Christine is learning to navigate. She is gaining more advertisers on her blog, has sponsored posts and is enrolled with influencer marketing networks to spread her brand. Her blog includes “affiliated links” for products – such as ingredients featured in her recipe – that generate commissions. As her blog gains visibility and she sees growth in social media followers, re-pins on Pinterest and shares on Instagram and Facebook, there is a snowball effect for additional revenue options. At the time of our interview, Christine had 1,830 Facebook followers, 4,625 followers on Pinterest and 2,517 on Instagram. She knew financial success could take up to five years. So far, she still has another day job to supplement her family’s income but said she is “right on the edge” of taking her blog to the next level. But during the process, Christine said her love of cooking, love of food and having a creative lifestyle that fits her night-owl schedule makes food blogging the perfect endeavor for her.

For Christine’s Mediterranean Chicken and Potatoes recipe, see Page 26 Live it! Magazine 9

Allison Miller Tornadough Alli, Kerkhoven


ith the tagline, “Whipping it up one dish at a time,” Allison Miller lives up to her blog’s name, “Tornadough Alli,” with a full-time schedule of cooking, baking, writing, photographing and videotaping recipes at her Kerkhoven home, where she lives with her husband and four kids. “I’ve always liked to cook,” said Allison, who started her blog in 2012. As revenues started increasing, she made it her full-time job 1½ years ago. “People don’t realize it pays well,” Allison said. “If you know what you’re doing and do it well.” They also don’t realize how much work it is and how much time it takes, she said. After developing recipes, she preps the ingredients, cooks or bakes the items in her home kitchen, “styles” the food with clever plating and backdrops and takes photos of the food in her studio, a small nook off the dining room. She posts new recipes and photos four or five times a week, and about once a week she makes a video. She writes a story to go with each recipe that includes tidbits about her family and the challenges of life to help create a personal connection with her readers. Then comes the task of posting the components to the blog with the right keywords that help her recipes

“There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes, non-cooking stuff that you have to do. It’s a lot of work, but it’s fulfilling.” - Allison Miller 10 Live it! Magazine

rise to the top when someone searches the internet for a certain type of food. “There’s a lot of behind-the-scenes, non-cooking stuff that you have to do,” she said. “It’s a lot of work, but it’s fulfilling.” She frequently puts in 10- to 11-hour days. “My husband says I never stop working, and I don’t,” she said. The work has paid off. The blog is Miller’s fulltime job that earns her a full-time paycheck. There are paid advertisements and sponsored products on her blog, and like most food bloggers, Allison participates in “influencer marketing” advertising networks. These third-party networks connect businesses such as food product companies or kitchen equipment businesses with food bloggers who already have a relationship with a targeted audience. By putting ads on popular blogs, companies gain exposure on a blog people already read and respect. When people read a blog where those products are featured, the blogger makes money. High-traffic bloggers get access to high-profile companies and generate more revenue than new bloggers who are growing their audience. “Traffic means ad income,” Allison said.

Allison uses Google analytics to check the stats on her blog and social media links several times a day. During our interview, Allison could see there were 30 people looking at her blog at that moment. The number of hits today determines how big her paycheck will be tomorrow, she said. This winter she had 76,565 Facebook followers, 7,235 followers on Pinterest and 1,356 on Instagram. Those numbers all help drive viewers to her blog. Allison also makes proposals to namebrand companies that pay bloggers to create new recipes with their products. For example, she created a recipe using Green Giant brand spiral zucchini that’s on her blog and she is a “brand ambassador” for Rodelle vanilla. She is also under a grueling schedule to meet a deadline for a cookbook featuring her recipes and photos to be published later this year. Allison also generates freelance income by making or editing videos for other food bloggers. As her Tornadough Alli blog keeps growing and her numbers keep increasing, she said she’ll reduce her freelance video work and concentrate on growing her blog and her income even more.

For Allison’s Vanilla Bean Pistachio Cake recipe, see Page 27 Live it! Magazine 11

Julie Koehl Evink Julie’s Eats and Treats, Morris


ulie Koehl Evink had a really good job in Morris that she enjoyed, and it paid her well. But people kept asking for her recipes. She started a simple blog in 2010 with “terrible” photos, allowing friends and family easy access to her favorite dishes. Then she learned it was possible to make money from food blogs. She did some research, bought a new camera, enrolled in an online blogging conference and began the slow, steady climb from novice to the very successful food blogger she is today. Her blog “Julie’s Eats and Treats” bills itself as providing “easy family friendly recipes that help mom win in the kitchen again” by using items already in the pantry. This winter she and her husband, Jason, launched a new blog called “Gimme some grilling” that puts their wood pellet smoker to use and caters to a niché audience by promising to provide “recipes for the everyday grill master.”

12 Live it! Magazine

With revenue from ads and sponsored posts on her blog, Julie said she earns an income that far exceeds what she had made before and allowed her to quit her day job last fall. “I’m just so incredibly blessed and grateful,” she said about her career as a blogger and mother of three young children. Starting a blog was relatively easy, but “gaining traction” took time, education, hard work and treating the endeavor like a business – not a hobby, she said. Because “people eat with their eyes,” Julie said the turning point came when her photos improved. “You have to have good photos, good recipes and then you have to know how to promote it,” she said. “I got my first sponsored post about nine months after I had dug into the photography, and embraced all of that,” Julie said. “It took off from there and there was no looking back.” She has a growing number of people who subscribe

“People eat with their eyes … I got my first sponsored post about nine months after I had dug into the photography, and embraced all of that.” - Julie Koehl Evink to her blog and follow her on social media. When she spoke with Live It! she had about 428,257 Facebook followers, 102,144 Pinterest followers and 13,300 Instagram followers, plus fans on her YouTube channel. That kind of exposure and popularity means businesses come to her to develop recipes using their products that are featured on her blog. Julie gets paid to do that, and in return the companies get an ad that “never dies,” she said. This winter Julie created a dip recipe using two Schwan’s products and used her blog and social media platforms to showcase Schwan’s at the company’s Super Bowl Live location in Minneapolis. Last fall she was paid to fly to Texas for a special beef promotion. In the beginning, Julie did everything on her blog by herself. She now hires people – including other bloggers who are still growing their business – to complete some of the tasks.

For example, she records overhead videos in her attractive home studio and sends the raw video to a virtual assistant who edits it and adds music and text. By outsourcing the editing, Julie said she can shoot four videos in a day and has more time to manage her business. But it’s not just about the revenue. Julie said she uses her blog to tell stories of her busy house and to help other moms get through their day by giving them easy-to-make recipes to feed their families. While her food may look perfect in the photos, Julie said she lets people know that her life is “not glossy” and she’s trying to live through the chaos just like everyone else.

Carolyn Lange is a features writer for Live it! Magazine, and a reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar.

For Julie’s One-Pot Ham & Penne Skillet recipe, see Page 25.

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SOCIAL MEDIA Owner of B. VanDerBill Consulting LLC Brittany VanDerBill shares her expertise By Carolyn Lange


rittany VanDerBill grew up in the Willmar area and had a five-year career as an insurance agent here. But in 2015 the owner of the agency died suddenly, which she said “opened my eyes to how short life really is” and led her to evaluate her future. She combined the things she loved about being an insurance agent – helping clients, getting to know people in the community and marketing – with her dream of owning her own business and launched B. VanDerBill Consulting LLC. She offers a variety of marketing, branding and consulting services, including social media management, social media training and business material design that helps businesses and nonprofits reach their goals. She is also branching out into speaking engagements.

14 Live it! Magazine

Brittany gave her insight into the world of how businesses and nonprofit organizations can effectively use social media.

Live it!: How has social media changed how businesses do business? Brittany: Social media truly allows businesses to connect with their clients and prospects in ways that weren’t possible before. Social media is all about connecting and building relationships, and we as customers are able to access online communication channels with businesses quickly and easily. Businesses and nonprofits need to be aware of the incredible power of social media in terms of connecting with others and how that can impact their brand.

Live it!: With so many social media tools to

choose from — Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, Twitter, websites and blogs — how does a business decide what’s best? Brittany: It can be incredibly tempting for a business to try to be on every social media site out there, but to really make it worthwhile you need to sit down and figure out who your target audience is and where that target audience spends time. This includes doing some research on the demographics of each social media platform to figure out where exactly your prospects are. Once you establish that, you’ll need to also determine how best to provide value to your audience and start building those online relationships. It’s also beneficial to keep in mind that people use each platform for slightly different things, so that’s another thing to consider as you narrow down which social media platforms to focus on.

It can be helpful to have an area to specialize in, or a “niché” as it’s commonly referred to. To help maintain consistency, create a content calendar that will keep you on track and help you plan what to write so you’re not scrambling to come up with topics to blog about.

Live it!: How do people make money from their blogs? Brittany: There are various ways to make money from blogging, including selling ad space. Some bloggers may have their own products they sell directly on the site. Affiliate marketing programs are another route which allows a blogger to partner with a company to promote a product for a portion of sales, so it’s a bit like earning a commission. It’s important to remember that monetizing a blog typically doesn’t happen overnight and is going to require some effort to build a following.

“One mistake that’s very common is for an organization to create a page or profile but neglect it for months at a time.”

Live it!: What are the biggest mistakes people make when using social media tools to promote their business or nonprofit? Brittany: One mistake that’s very common is for an organization to create a page or profile but neglect it for months at a time. It’s important to maintain a consistent presence on social media, which can be very challenging without a plan in place. Another common misstep is when businesses use social media to constantly sell their product or service. As I’ve mentioned, social media is about building relationships so it really can harm your brand if you are constantly trying to sell something to your audience. Live it!: What’s the best way to start a blog and

keep it alive? Brittany: The best way to start a blog is to simply start with an idea. If you’re considering a blog, you likely have some ideas or a passion about a subject.

Live it!: You write a blog with tips about using social media for business. What do you find most challenging about maintaining your blog? Brittany: By far it’s being consistent! I tend to put my clients’ needs before my own blog so I can definitely relate to the challenge of blogging consistently. Live it!: What do you predict will be the next big change in social media marketing tools? Brittany: Facebook has been making some big changes in recent months and it has been causing some interesting conversations, as well as decreased usage. I’m watching this to see if we’re going to have large shifts of people leaving Facebook in favor of other sites. Perhaps there will even be a new social media site created in the near future! Follow Brittany at

Live it! Magazine 15

- READ IT! -

One Book Willmar By Syrena Maranell


f Jack London’s Yukon tales married William Faulkner’s Yoknapatawpha County’s blood battles, their thematic and geographic offspring would be Peter Geye’s Wintering. … There’s a lot to love about this novel: the beauty of the wilderness, the tenderness of relationships, the craft. … (There) is the feeling you get at the funeral of a loved one – how you ache to hear the stories you never knew so that you might round out the man. … But in the sharing of stories there is healing, if not complete comprehension – and that, it seems to me, is the point and triumph of this novel.” — Christine Brunkhorst, Minneapolis Star Tribune. “

“Wintering” by Minnesota author, Peter Geye, is the novel selected for Willmar’s second annual community read event. The purpose of One Book Willmar is to offer our community an opportunity to read, think, talk, listen and grow together. Everyone reads the same book and then gathers to discuss it, bringing people together to share a common experience. Geye (pronounced “guy”) will be speaking at the Willmar Public Library at 6:30 p.m. April 26. Since there is limited seating, it will be necessary to have a ticket for the event. Tickets are free and may be picked up at the Willmar Public Library after April 2. Peter Geye is the author of three Peter Geye novels, including, “The Lighthouse Road” and “Safe from the Sea.” Geye was born and raised in Minneapolis where he continues to live. He

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Syrena Maranell is the Adult Services Librarian at the Willmar Public Library. For more information on these audiobooks, swing by the Willmar Public Library. The librarians are there to help you find your new favorite author. Check out the library’s blog at turningpages.areavoices.

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received his Bachelor of Arts from the University of Minnesota, his Master of Fine Arts from the University of New Orleans, and his Ph.D. from Western Michigan University, where he taught creative writing. “Wintering” is the story of a man and his son, Harry and Gus Eide, whose journey into the Minnesota wilderness north of the town of Gunflint (think: Grand Marais) began as an adventure to spend a winter in the woods, living by their wits like the ancient voyageurs. The trip is that, until Harry reveals his ulterior motive, a scheme devised to settle an old debt with a bitter foe. The novel spans generations with writing that is both muscular and poetic (Star Tribune).

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5 s y a w

5 s y a d


By Kenzie Tenney

Down to business

For a more constructed, tailored look, pair your favorite white tee with a blazer and chino trousers in any color or print. Accessorize with chic flats and a fun handbag.


Flirty and feminine

I love flow-y, pleated, high-waisted skirts. They look flattering on every body type and it’s a fun way to “dress up” a basic tee. Accessorize with cute pumps and a bold statement necklace.


The James Dean

This look is probably my personal favorite. It’s simple, but gives off an “edgier” vibe. I love tucking the front of my T-shirts into my black skinny jeans or knotting to the side. For cooler days, grab a denim or leather jacket and wear your favorite booties or sneakers.


Divine denim

We know that denim jeans are a staple, so this might sound a bit obvious. But with denim skirts making their way back into stores, you can easily add more denim options into your wardrobe. I’ve been drawn to the denim skirts with buttons down the front, but there are so many different styles out there to choose from.


White on white on white

Try to ignore the old “no white before Memorial Day” saying, and pair your white tee with white pants. It will be a nice, refreshing look as we move into the spring season. This look can be dressed up or down depending on the shoes you decide to wear. Slip into cute wedge sandals for a dressier look or tie those white flat sneakers if you are wanting something a bit more casual. Kenzie Tenney is a freelance writer for Live it! Magazine

Live it! Magazine 17

f l e s r u o y ! Do it Greeting cards with a personal touch By Lu Fransen

18 Live it! Magazine


hrough the years I’ve dabbled in making my own greeting cards. Usually I’ve used rubber stamps and different background paper. A year ago I came across a large number of old postcards in an antique store. I found so many interesting and beautiful cards that I bought a bunch of them on the spot. Once I got home I thought about what to do with them and it hit me – greeting cards. That first batch turned out beautifully. So, the next time I was in an antique store I replenished my supply. I have paid anywhere from 50-cents a piece to $2 a piece.

I start out with card stock, matching envelopes and background paper. As usual, I frequent my local craft store, going to the craft paper/scrapbooking aisle.

Make sure the size of the cards are large enough that your postcards do not fill the whole space. You want some room for the background paper to show. Since most of the postcards are aged, they have beige

and tan hues to them, so I’m partial to the brown cards. Next, look for books of background paper. They usually have multiple colors and patterns. The books I found are self adhesive which is nice because you don’t have to use the double stick tape for them. I decided the muted colors looked best with my postcards. You will also need to have double stick tape. They make awesome dispensers for this, so you just have to run it across the paper and it leaves the tape on there for you, and a sticky side on top so you can attach it to your card face. I also like to have a variety of ribbons, string and raffia on hand to dress up the card. Pick a postcard and find a background that compliments it. Take the backing off of the background and put on the front of the card. You may have to cut the background paper to fit the card size. Next put the sticky tape on the back of the postcard and affix on top of the background on top of the card. Feel free to tie on ribbon, string etc.,, and use a rubber stamp with whatever greeting you want on the inside. You can also leave it blank and hand write it instead! The finished results are unique and ready for you to give to that special someone.

Lu follows in her mother’s footsteps of unwinding and relaxing by crafting and creating. Creativity is like a muscle – the more you use it, the stronger it becomes!

Live it! Magazine 19


Is your portfolio ‘healthy’?


By Jeanne Ashburn

ay is National Physical Fitness and Sports Month. If you can exercise regularly, you’ll help yourself feel better, control your weight and even reduce the chances of developing certain diseases. But why not extend the concept of “fitness” to other areas of your life – such as your investment portfolio? And to help maintain a healthy portfolio, you can draw on some of the same principles that apply to keeping your body in good shape. Consider, for example, one of the things that happen when you exercise – namely, your body uses more oxygen. As an investor, you may need your portfolio to get “oxygen” in the form of infusions of new investment dollars. If you stop putting money into your portfolio, you’ll need to rely on your existing investments to grow enough to help you meet your long-term goals, such as a comfortable retirement. Could that happen? Maybe, but you will likely be better off by investing consistently, year after year. And by spreading your contributions over a period of decades, you don’t have to come up with large sums at any one time.

20 Live it! Magazine

Another element important to exercise is the need to avoid injury. That’s why all sorts of athletes, both competitive and casual, stretch before they swing into action. Many of them also take other injury-avoidance steps, such as strengthening their “core” through abdominal work and increasing their flexibility through yoga. When you invest, you can be “injured” if your portfolio takes a hit during a market downturn. However, this type of injury will likely be much more severe if your portfolio is over-concentrated in just one asset class and the downturn primarily affects those exact assets. But if you own many different types of assets – stocks, bonds, government securities, and so on – you may reduce the impact of a downturn on your portfolio. Keep in mind, though, this type of diversification can’t guarantee profits or help you avoid all losses. While exercise is essential to maintaining good health, it isn’t the only factor involved. You should also get regular checkups with a medical professional, who can run various tests to measure changes in cholesterol, blood pressure, heart function and other areas.

To help ensure your portfolio is healthy, you also need to chart its progress over time. And that doesn’t just mean determining if you’re getting the growth you need, though that’s obviously of great interest to you. You also need to evaluate whether your portfolio has gotten out of balance, which can occur without your doing anything at all. To illustrate: If you start out with a certain percentage of one type of investment, such as stocks, and these stocks grow to a point where they now take up a bigger share of your portfolio, you may be taking on more risk than you had intended. Consequently, you should review your portfolio at least once a year to evaluate both its performance and its balance. Once you’ve compared where you are today with where you were a year ago, you’ll be in a better position to make appropriate changes if needed. Do what it takes to keep yourself physically fit – but

also take steps to ensure your investment portfolio is in good shape. It’s vitally important to your future – and you can do the work without even breaking a sweat. This article was written by Edward Jones for use by your local Edward Jones Financial Advisor. Jeanne Ashburn is a financial adviser with Edward Jones in Willmar. Edward Jones, its employees and financial advisors are not estate planners and cannot provide tax or legal advice. You should consult your estate-planning or qualified tax advisor regarding your situation.



Sometimes, I wonder... By Ron Skjong


hy don’t we finish what we start? I expect we’ve all experienced this begin-and-falter mode. It all starts with an exciting new idea, there’s the initial launch of the endeavor and then, although the root of the idea is placed, the idea never bears fruit. Our great idea withers. Is it because of our busy lives or is that the excuse we all use to explain our stoppage? Sometimes, I wonder … Here’s my experience with this lack of finishing something. A few years ago I thought about starting a blog about wine. I’d read many of the wine blogs about the beverage and thought I could do just as well and, in some cases, much better than others. So, I began to gather information and a platform for my wine blog. There were people ready and willing to help me, and we had a couple of conversations and a hands-on lesson to get me started. But, the blog took a back seat for awhile because life got in the way with too many work-related and family-related issues. However, the idea still simmered. I chose a name for my wine blog: “From A to Z” and the idea was to explore all the wines from an Albarinõ to a Zinfandel – get it? I wrote my first article and posted it. Then, once again, life got in the way with … things. My blog withered but the root was still holding onto life. So, I tried to justify my inaction by thinking

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that it’s alright because there are so many wine blogs in cyberspace – what difference would mine make to anyone? My voice would be just one very small voice among a chorus of others. To this day, I think about that blog and sometimes, I wonder ... what would I have gained, who would I have met, and what new and exciting wines would I have tasted if I had continued to blog? “From A to Z” nagged me, nags me and therefore, I know the idea root is alive and well – it keeps calling me to scratch the itch of blogging – to light my little blog candle to further educate and promote wine – what some have called the sunshine of life. Does that mean the light never fully goes out? No, the light never goes out and I’m happy for it! I still get to write and talk about the wine industry and the wonderful people who really keep the flame of winemaking alive. A couple of local vineyards are worth mentioning. Hinterland Vineyards near Clara City is always a pleasure to visit. Nestled off the main highway, the vineyards are a welcome sight to a thirsty and inquiring guest. Hinterland’s barrel-aged dry red wine called Wrath is a treat. Served at room temperature, this wine’s first taste of plums with a bit of spiciness is soon followed by a soft vanilla finish. For a red wine lover, this would pair nicely with the winery’s bison burger and waffle fries.


I enjoy tasting these beverages and feel compelled to pass on the good news about them. So, does that mean the little voice of my up-to-now quiet blog is calling me? Sometimes in the dimly lit hallways of our lives, we can shed a bit of light on a subject simply by doing it – or by blogging! It’s time to stop wondering and time to just do it. As always, eat and drink in moderation but laugh with reckless abandon! Cheers! Ron Skjong writes primarily about the wonderful world of wine but likes to explore various spirits and beers, too. He is married and has four grown children. While stationed in Germany, he was introduced to German wines and from that introduction, a lifelong pursuit developed to find that perfect bottle of wine.

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If you’re after a nice crisp white wine, try their Lacrescent. It’s a semi dry wine with nice grapefruit tastes and is best taken when chilled properly. When visiting this vineyard, I don’t have to wonder if I’ll get a nice and good tasting Minnesota wine – I know it’s there. Another local winery is Glacial Ridge Winery near Spicer. Along with a nice schedule of events there’s the great list of wines that are available on site. I love Italian wines and Glacial Ridge’s Bacio is an American Vermentino old vine wine. Opening the bottle, you’ll be invited to smell the nice citrus aroma and then to taste pear, which then leads to a soft citrus finish. It’s a great pleasure to drink and I recommend it highly. If you wish to stay with a Minnesota wine, try their Castle Red – a beautiful red Frontenac Rosé. Besides looking terrific in the glass, this wine is multi-layered and complex with berries and spice tastes that lead to a surprisingly smooth finish. Sometimes, I wonder if I’m spending too much time on wines so here’s a shout out for Willmar’s Foxhole Brewhouse. If you can get a taste of their 2017 U.S. Beer Open Championship’s bronze award winning EKG Amber, I would grab it. This English amber ale is malt forward and exhibits outstanding aromas of caramel and a hint of chocolate. It’s a low alcohol ale that has a finish that will make you wonder why you haven’t previously tasted it.

Blog it! Food bloggers share their recipes

By Carolyn Lange


he cover story on three local food bloggers in this issue of Live it! got us all hungry to taste the dishes these successful women serve up every day on their blogs. They not only develop the recipes – sometimes taking an existing recipe and putting their own special twist to it – but they also prep the ingredients into glass bowls, prepare the recipe, plate and style the finished product, take multiple photos of it, write a story about the recipe and what’s going on in their life and family, and post it all on their blogs. Oh, and they also make videos of how to make some of the recipes, get advertisers and sponsored content to earn revenue, and use all aspects of social media to bring viewers to their blogs. And then they do it all again the next day.

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These women took time out of their very busy schedules and graciously sent us some of their favorite recipes. From Christine Rooney, “The Rustic Foodie” from New London, we have a “Sheet Pan Mediterranean Chicken and Potatoes” recipe she says makes a “perfect weeknight dinner.” Allison Miller, “Tornadough Alli” from Kerkhoven, sent us a recipe for “Vanilla Bean Pistachio Cake” that she describes as “light, airy and full of flavor.” Julie Evink, “Julie’s Eats and Treats” from Morris, gave us a “One-Pot Ham & Penne Skillet” recipe for a quick dinner recipe. We’ve included links to their blogs so you can check out more of their recipes.

Julie’s Eats and Treats Julie Evink

One-Pot Ham & Penne Skillet Prep time: 15 minutes Cook time: 15 minutes Serves: 6 Ingredients: 1 tablespoon olive oil 1/2 cup chopped yellow onion 3 cloves minced garlic 3 cups cubed fully cooked ham 1/2 teaspoon dried parsley 1/2 teaspoon dried basil 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano 1/4 teaspoon pepper 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes 3 cups chicken broth 2 cups 2% milk 1/4 cup flour 1 (16 ounces) penne noodles, uncooked 2 cups frozen peas, thawed 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese Directions: Place olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until warm. Saute ham and onions until onions are translucent. Add garlic, parsley, basil, oregano, pepper and red pepper flakes; cook 1 to 2 minutes. Stir in broth, milk, flour and penne noodles. Cook 10 minutes. Add peas and cook five more minutes or until pasta is cooked through and peas are warm. Sprinkle Parmesan cheese on top of pasta.

The Rustic Foodie Christine Rooney

Sheet Pan Mediterranean Chicken and Potatoes Prep time: 5 minutes Cook time: 25 minutes Total time: 30 minutes Serves: 4

Recipe note: Cooking times may vary slightly depending on thickness of chicken and size of potatoes.

Ingredients: 1½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast 4 to 5 large red potatoes 1 pound asparagus 1½ teaspoon garlic powder 1 teaspoon oregano 1/2 teaspoon thyme 1/2 teaspoon rosemary 1 teaspoon smoked paprika 1/2 teaspoon salt 2/3 tsp. pepper 2 tablespoons olive oil, split 1 12-ounce jar marinated artichokes 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese 1 large lemon Directions: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Chop red potatoes (or potatoes of choice) into uniform sizes. Place chicken breasts on sheet pan. Surround the chicken with the chopped potatoes. (Place any extra potatoes on a separate baking pan). Drizzle chicken and potatoes with 1½ tablespoons olive oil and toss to coat. Sprinkle garlic powder, oregano, thyme, rosemary, smoked paprika, and kosher salt and pepper over chicken and potatoes. Toss to coat. Place in the oven and bake for 25 minutes. Cut the bottoms of the asparagus. Place stalks on separate sheet pan. Toss in ½ tablespoon olive oil and a generous pinch of salt and pepper. Toss to coat. Place the asparagus in the oven after chicken and potatoes have cooked for 10 minutes (at the 15 minute mark). Continue to cook chicken, potatoes, and asparagus

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for the remainder of the time. Remove from oven when cooked. Chop jar of marinated artichokes into quarters. To assemble place potatoes on plate. Top with chicken breast. Add a generous sprinkling of Parmesan cheese and a couple spoonfuls of chopped artichokes. Add asparagus to plate and finish with a squeeze of lemon.

Tornadough Alli Allison Miller

Vanilla Bean Pistachio Cake Prep time: 30 minutes Cook time: 30 minutes Total time: 1 hour Serves: 12 Cake Ingredients: 2Ÿ cup all-purpose flour 2 teaspoon baking powder 1/2 teaspoon baking soda 1 teaspoon salt 3/4 cup butter softened 1½ cup sugar 3 eggs 1 vanilla bean 1/2 teaspoon vanilla paste or pure vanilla extract 1 cup milk Frosting Ingredients: 1 pound butter 1 package pistachio pudding 3.4 oz 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract 5 to 6 cups powdered sugar 4 to 6 tablespoon milk Chopped pistachios optional Directions: Preheat oven to 350. In bowl mix together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and whisk until combined, set aside. In another bowl beat together butter and sugar until fluffy, add in eggs 1 at a time until blended. Mix in vanilla bean and vanilla paste. Alternate adding dry ingredients and milk into wet ingredients. Place in two, 9-inch prepared cake pans and bake for about 25-30 minutes or until golden and they spring back. Remove from oven and turn onto cooling racks to fully cool. To make frosting, in large bowl beat butter until light and fluffy. Blend in pudding and vanilla and then add in powdered sugar 1 cup at a time.

Once sugar is added, add in milk slowly until you reach desired consistency and continue to beat on high for about 5 minutes to fluff up. On turnstyle or cake stand place one layer of cake and spread about 1 cup of frosting in the center and spread to about 1/2 inch from sides. Top with second layer of cake and then spread frosting around the top and sides of cake until covered, reserving about 1 cup of frosting for decorating. To make a textured cake using a offset spatula place gently on the bottom of cake and press into frosting and spin cake around, repeat in rows until you reach the top of cake. Pipe remaining frosting into large roses on top of cake then sprinkle with pistachios.

Live it! Magazine 27

- LIFE HAPPENS Mental health issues come to forefront


By Claudette Larson, LICSW

Then we had our 18th school shooting this year. As a mental health clinician and one that works primarily with children and teens, I feel compelled to use this column to do something productive. Along with the debate about gun control, the topic of untreated mental health is a discussion we are 001699112r1

sat and struggled about what I was going to write about this month. Not because I lacked ideas. I had several. In particular: the concept of cooking and baking as a therapeutic activity. I like to connect my column to our feature.

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finally starting to have about children and adolescents – a vulnerability that can no longer be ignored. In my opinion, we ignore it on a national level, as well as on a community level. Therefore, I have an important question you can ask your child’s teacher the next time you see them. It is important you ask this question to the teacher. “Do you feel that the children in your classroom who you believe need mental health services are receiving the resources they need as soon as they need it and as much as they need it?” If the answer is no, ask them what is standing in the way and how you can help advocate for what they need. In my experience as a mental health professional working with school systems through the years, both within the school and as a therapist coming into the school, there are different degrees of seeing mental health as being a priority. This is not to single out any specific local school district. I find that teachers and social workers are often overwhelmed with the number of students presenting with behavioral and emotional issues. Rural communities have even fewer resources available as there are fewer professionals and programs in the community available for after-school and evening care. School-linked programs provide professionals coming into the school through grants and that is very helpful, but often this may mean only one professional for an entire school or district. Some schools have only one social worker who must manage both student counseling and working with parents who are having issues with the student at home. We must also recognize that the stigma of mental health does not exist in a vacuum. Schools often pri-

oritize that which makes them appear stronger and more attractive to the community: excellent sport programs, high academic achievements and that which highlights their students’ wellness. The problem is that all students, regardless of socio-economic standing and appearance, struggle with mental health issues and can be experiencing stressors in the home. In my own practice, I see children and teens of all genders, races, income levels and attitudes. It is not always the underachievers and, in fact, I see many well-achieving students who are fighting struggles they try hard to keep hidden. If a child’s emotional health is not well, it affects all functioning – both in and out of the classroom. This impacts physical health, academic success, social relationships among peers and yes – bullying. Prioritizing mental health in our schools is such a fundamental way to show children and teens that we care about them. Teaching adolescents about depression, anxiety, attention-deficit and other common mental health conditions opens conversations and makes the stigma surrounding mental health a less ignorant one. School shootings should not be the only time we have conversations about children’s mental health as it is often times a conversation that ends with little action. With advocacy on behalf of parents and students, let’s be proactive and together with our teachers – informed.

Claudette Larson, LICSW, RPT is owner of Willow Creek Counseling in New London and has enjoyed working with children, teens and adults for the past 16 years.

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What’s happenin’ ? April - May 2018 Whitney Music Center

Every Thursday Willmar, 6 p.m., Whitney Music Center, 913 Business 71 North; free music concert by different individuals and groups.

Power of the Purse

April 6 Willmar, 5:30 p.m., Willmar Conference Center; Empower: Women United and United Way fundraiser, an evening of silent and live auctions, purse bingo, food, drink and women; proceeds support Early Childhood Initiatives in our communities.

Jazz Festival

April 6-7 Morris, 7 p.m., Edson Auditorium, University of Minnesota; 40th annual Jazz Festival with guest artists Kate Skinner, Pete James Johnson, Josh Skinner and JC Sanford; tickets available online at or by phone at 320-589-6077 between 8 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays.

Ukulele Orchestra

April 7 Collegeville, 7:30 p.m., Humphrey Theater, St. John’s University; Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain, the original (often imitated, never replicated) troupe of all-singing, all-strumming all-ukulele players. “For 30 plucking years, their performances have delivered witty, whistling, virtuosic, awesome, foot-stomping good times.” Bring your ukulele for a string-and-sing along; call 320363-5777 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday or online at www.csbsju. edu/fine-arts.

Woodbury Chorus

April 8 Willmar, 4 p.m., Calvary Lutheran Church; the Woodbury Chorus and Orchestra present “Songs of Hope” to support the Willmar Area Food Shelf.

‘Fuddy Meers’

April 12-14 Willmar, 7:30 p.m., Ridgewater College Theatre; Ridgewater College presents the comedy “Fuddy Meers”; $5 general admission at the door; for reservations call 320-222-7605.

Luther College Jazz

April 13 Dawson, 7 p.m., Memoria Auditorium; the Dawson-Boyd Arts Association presents the Luther College Jazz Orchestra; freewill donation at the door.

Woodbury Chorus

April 15 Olivia, 4 p.m., St. Aloysius Catholic Church; the Woodbury Chorus and Orchestra present a concert to support the Willmar Area Food Shelf.

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Check it! Out ‘Sex Please, We’re Sixty’

April 19-22, 25-29 Willmar, 7:30 p.m. April 19-21, 25-28, and 1 p.m. April 22 and 29, The Barn Theatre; The Barn Theatre presents “Sex Please, We’re Sixty;” adults $20, ages 18 and younger $10; 320-235-9500 or

Prairie Arts Chorale

April 20 Redwood Falls, 7:30 p.m., Esteboe Performing Arts Center, Redwood Valley High School; the Prairie Arts Chorale presents “By Request,” choral arrangements and ensembles with music of a light nature, such as Broadway.

Dakha Brakha

April 20 Collegeville, 7:30 p.m., Gorecki Theater, College of St. Benedict; a Ukrainian folk-rock circus-punk sound that’s been lovingly described as “ethno-chaos”; their performance invites you into “an unexpected, mind-blowing world where hypnotic textures” meld soulful folk songs with Balkin, African, Jazz and R&B, reinventing their heritage into beautiful sonic worlds; call 320-363-5777 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday or online at

Red Carpet Gala

April 21 Willmar, 2 to 10 p.m., Willmar Civic Center; Local Unites - Red Carpet Gala “Break the Silence, End Human Trafficking” fashion show with local models and boutiques, music, food, performers, speakers and dancing to end the evening; freewill donation minimum of $10 suggested, tickets available through Eventbrite online, event organizers or participating businesses; call 320-295-0173.

West Central Concert Series

April 21 Willmar, 7:30 p.m., WEAC; the West Central Concert series presents “Grand Magic Show,” a Vegas-quality but family friendly show; $20 at the door.

Velvet Brass

April 22 Glenwood, 3 to 7 p.m., Lakeside Ballroom; winter dances open to all, music by Tuxedo Junction; $10 per person, $5 ages 17-30; no jeans or shorts; basic dance lessons at 2 .m. included with admission.

Prairie Arts Chorale

April 22 Spicer, 4 p.m., Faith Lutheran Church; the Prairie Arts Chorale presents “By Request,” choral arrangements and ensembles with music of a light nature, such as Broadway; tickets at the door.

Air Play

April 28 St. Joseph, 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., Escher Auditorium, College of St. Benedict; Air Play is the wordless adventure of two siblings journeying through a land of air, transforming the ordinary into objects of uncommon beauty. The 2 p.m. performance will be intentionally structured as sensory friendly. Call 320-363-5777 between 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. Monday through Saturday or online at

Prairie Arts Chorale

April 28 Montevideo,7:30 p.m., Montevideo Community Center; the Prairie Arts Chorale presents “By Request,” choral arrangements and ensembles with music of a light nature, such as Broadway; tickets at the door.

Willmar Area Symphonic Orchestra

April 28 Willmar, 7 p.m., WEAC; the Willmar Area Symphonic Orchestra presents the annual Young Artists concert.

Prairie Arts Chorale

April 29 Willmar, 4 p.m., Vinje Lutheran Church; the Prairie Arts Chorale presents “By Request,” choral arrangements and ensembles with music of a light nature, such as Broadway; tickets at the door.

Monroe Crossing

May 11 New London, 7:30 p.m., Little Theatre; Monroe Crossing concert; $18 at the door.

Glacial Ridge Winery

Every Thursday starting May 17 Spicer, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., Glacial Ridge Winery, state Highway 23 between New London and Spicer; free music concert by different individuals and groups.

Lorie Line

May 17 Willmar, 7:30 p.m., Ridgewater College Theatre; Lori Line presents “The Simply Grand Solo Piano tour;” tickets $54 available online at

‘Seed Folks’

May 22 Dawson, 7 p.m., Memorial Auditorium; Dawson-Boyd Arts Association presents the Children’s Theater Company performance of “Seed Folks”; adults $10, students $5; online at

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April/May 2018 issue of Live it! Magazine 2018  
April/May 2018 issue of Live it! Magazine 2018  

West Central Tribune Lifestyle magazine