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Live it! Boxed in: Yes or No? Women help carry the load Complete the circle of love FEBRUARY/MARCH 2018 | FREE ISSUE

Circling back …

“She’s one of the boys” That’s the headline from a story I wrote back in April 1983, during the earlier days of my career with the West Central Tribune. (I know, I’m dating myself.) Point is, that article was about a female firefighter joining the department in Kandiyohi, a small neighboring community to Willmar. It was almost unheard of in those days, especially in this area, to have a female firefighter among the ranks. I won an award from the Minnesota Fire Chief magazine for that article, reprinted with the West Central Tribune’s permission in the bimonthly magazine, as it was judged best feature story of the year. I remember Mike and I traveled to Bemidji for the annual Minnesota Fire Chiefs Association awards luncheon. It was one of the few times I’d ever been to Bemidji – now we travel to Bemidji on a regular basis as our son and his family live near Bemidji. Likewise, just as Bemidji is now a part of our daily lives, it is not all that uncommon anymore to see a female firefighter. Although she may still turn more than a few heads. Times and people change – but as the saying goes, sometimes the more things change the more they stay the same, or at least come back full circle. In this issue of Live it! Magazine, Carolyn visits with three female members of the Willmar Fire Department, and their chief. These women have been confident and brave enough to step outside the proverbial box and go against the norm. Again, while it’s not that uncommon in 2018, the number of male firefighters still surpasses that of female firefighters by a long shot. Being a firefighter is just one of many ways people, especially women, can step outside the box. Through our health and fitness, mental health and even our spirits columns, our writers help us take a closer look as we examine ourselves and the society we live in. We also have a few tips on financial resolutions for the new year, and a few new ideas for the dinner table. 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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you. from g r a e o h veitma ant t li m We w eet us @ k Tw veit@ oo , l li aceb emai it us on f ! Box 839 t i . e vis 1 v i 5620 s, rite L or w llmar MN tory idea s i . e W re elcom nd mo We w ments a com

Watch for our next issue out April 6, 2018. May we publish your letter?

On Dec./Jan. cover story: I loved the article and how it told Helen’s story of hardship, as well as her involvement in Toastmasters. The article showcased Helen’s story well, and in a way that many others can relate to. Extremely well written. I also loved how the article showed how Toastmasters has a life-changing impact on others, and how it gives people a voice to share their story with others. Well done. - Harold Osmundson, District Director, District 6, Toastmasters International

In time of great distress most of us get paralyzed by our misfortune. Helen Grothe refused to be subdued and took her life’s experience as an opportunity to improve her life. She went to college, improved her communication and leadership skills by joining Toastmasters and completely changed her life. I look forward to meeting Helen and getting inspired through her stories and life’s experiences. - Amit K. Ghosh, Professor of Medicine, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine and Sciences

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 April 6, 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 Anne Polta Lu Fransen Carolyn Lange Erica Dischino Kenzie Tenney

Marketing Consultants Christie Steffl, Advertising Manager

Jan Queenan

Jennifer Penoyer

Lu Fransen

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


Steven Ammermann, Publisher Kelly Boldan, Editor

2208 W. Trott Ave., Willmar MN 56201 Volume 7, Issue 1

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 Going above and beyond


February 2018, Volume 7, Issue 1



Building lifelong friendships


Firefighters always hard working


Love yourself first


Setting yourself up for the future


DEPARTMENTS 3 READER’S MAILBAG What we hear 14 HEALTH & FITNESS Take time for yourself 15 DO-IT-YOURSELF So easy to personalize 16 STYLE IT! Clutter-free wardrobe


17 MONEY MATTERS Financial health for 2018 18 WOK IT! Fast, easy, fresh and bold 20 LIFE HAPPENS Finding our way back 21 WHAT’S HAPPENING? Mark your calendars 22 SPIRITS Box or bottle?


Fighting fire with



Giving back to their community, firefighters set an example for next generation By Carolyn Lange

tiveness when they arrive at the scene of a fire. The women did not join to become “token, equal-opportunity females” on the squad, said Kaitlin, 27, who earned her place on the department in 2014. “I wanted to actually earn my keep.” But when they tell people they’re on the fire department, Kaitlin said there’s an assumption they do office work. There’s often a pause and raised eyebrows when they explain they are firefighters – just like the men.


hen they step into their heavy boots and pants and pull on their helmets and breathing masks, the women on the Willmar Fire Department become one of the guys. They wield axes, climb onto roofs and drag hoses through burning houses in an effort to save someone’s life and a family’s possessions. Caitlin Brabender, Heather Hubel-Coleman and Kaitlin Wearda are firefighters and they are in the growing ranks of women serving in these often dangerous roles that have typically been reserved for men. Training, skills and a desire to help the people in their community have helped equip the three women as they stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the nearly 40 men on the Willmar Fire Department’s paid on-call crew. Knowing they have the support of everyone on the department ensures their effec-

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as much as anybody else” when it comes to pulling their weight, said 30-year-old Caitlin, who joined the department five years ago to “give back to the community that I live in and be an example for my 13-year-old son.” “We’ve proven we’re not the equal-opportunity females by any means,” said Heather, who had 18 years on the Willmar Ambulance Service before joining the Willmar Fire Department after a fire at her own Willmar home in 2014. Heather, who is 40, followed in the footsteps of her dad, who was on the Maynard Fire Department for 30 years. She knows she’s setting a positive example for her 12-year-old daughter. “I preach to her that you give to your community,” said Heather. “So she needed to see what her mama could do.”


“The responses I get range from, ‘Wow. That’s awesome. Go for it.’ to ‘Really? Are you sure? I don’t know if I’d want you to pull me out of a burning building’.” said Kaitlin. When she climbs off a fire truck with her ponytail swinging and gets a look of surprise by onlookers, Heather thinks, “Yes. I am a female and I’m here to help you.” Although they may complete some tasks differently than the men on the crew, the women receive the same training and are treated as equals by men they consider a second family. The women “go above and beyond just

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To be sure, being a firefighter is not easy. After going through a multifaceted application process before earning a post in the department, there is extensive training before a firefighter makes their first run on a truck. There are hours and hours of mandatory continuing education and training to keep skills sharp and stay up-to-date on new equipment and techniques. A common question about women serving as firefighters concerns physical strength. Kaitlin, Heather and Caitlin are physically fit and active, but they could be described as petite.

Heather Hubel-Coleman Age: 40

Career: Quality Assurance Investigator at Divine House and owner of Simple Days, an occasional boutique in New London; EMT with Willmar Ambulance for 18 years (retired) Volunteer: Maynard Fire Department in 1994 and Willmar Firefighter since 2015

“We’ve proven we’re not the equal-opportunity females by any means.” - Heather Hubel-Coleman

Their stature has not prevented them from doing the job. Wearing full turnout gear with an oxygen tank means walking around with about 70 extra pounds, which can be exhausting during long calls. That’s offset by the adrenaline rush of responding to an emergency. The women agreed it’s also important to know your limitations. Caitlin said because of her short stature, it’s difficult for her to operate a chainsaw above her head to ventilate smoke from a building – a task that’s easier for a taller person. But there are other necessary tasks on a fire call, like operating a circular saw, that she can do very well. By the same token, they said, a large male may find it difficult to climb on a roof and will leave that task to a firefighter who’s better able to handle the job. Those decisions are respected by the team. “You know your limit,” said Caitlin. “And so you try not to exceed that because then you’re now a hazard or a danger to the other firefighters who are on the scene.” The women said everyone in the department – male or female – has strengths and weaknesses that are balanced in a team effort.


As with all volunteer or paid on-call fire departments, firefighters have to be ready to drop what they’re doing when the pager goes off to respond to a call, whether it’s a building engulfed in flames or an automatic alarm that could be nothing – or something big. It’s a time commitment that can strain volunteers, including those with children at home, like Caitlin, who is a single mother. Caitlin said she can count on fellow fire-

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Kaitlin Wearda Age: 27

Career: EMT with Willmar Ambulance and medical scribe with Family Practice Medical Center Volunteer: Willmar Fire Department for three years, disaster relief in Louisiana and medical relief service in the Middle East

“The responses I get range from, ‘Wow. That’s awesome. Go for it.’ to ‘Really? Are you sure? I don’t know if I’d want you to pull me out of a burning building’.” - Kaitlin Wearda

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fighters and their spouses to provide support, like picking up her son from an afterschool event, if she’s out on a fire call. Because fire departments in rural Minnesota rely on people who usually have day jobs or own businesses, not everyone can respond to every call. In Willmar, firefighters must make 45 percent of the fire calls and 70 percent of the weekly training sessions. Meeting the quota can mean personal sacrifices. Heather said she made her family turn the car around on Thanksgiving Day so she could return to Willmar after hearing the page for a fire call. Heather confesses that she’s “straight up crabby” sometimes when she leaves her family to go to the weekly training meetings. But that mood quickly changes once she’s with the rest of the crew in the department. “There definitely is that camaraderie,” said Caitlin. Heather said her “firefighter buddies” represent “lifelong friendships that aren’t going anywhere.”


Whether it’s plunging into a smoke-filled building or conducting public education about smoke detectors and home fire exit plans, Kaitlin said female firefighters are inspiring other young girls and women. “There are the little girls that look at me and say, ‘Hey, you’re a girl. You’re wearing all this gear. You’re a firefighter. You just left on that fire truck. Like, I can do that too’,”

Caitlin Brabender Age: 30

Career: Sleep technician at Willmar Sleep Center and aide for home healthcare and hospice with Divine House Volunteer: Willmar Fire Department for five years

“You know your limit. And so you try not to exceed that because then you’re now a hazard or a danger to the other firefighters who are on the scene.” - Caitlin Brabender

said Caitlin, who tells the girls, “Yes you can.” Being a firefighter has “enabled me to fully own who I am as a woman,” Kaitlin said. “To be strong, capable and brave.” It’s a role more women are filling, especially in small fire departments in Greater Minnesota, where the number of available volunteers is stretched. A majority of area fire departments have at least one female firefighter. As the population in rural Minnesota shrinks and the potential firefighter base decreases, which has more people thinking about joining the force who maybe wouldn’t have considered it previously. A desire to help people in their community was the driving force that led Caitlin, Heather and Kaitlin to step into the role as a firefighter. Kaitlin said it’s rewarding to “be there for someone on one of the worst days of their lives. ... It’s really a blessing to be part of our community in that way. I don’t think you could ask for a better job.” They encourage more women to step up to become firefighters. “It’s not easy. You do have to put in the effort and you do have to put in the work and the commitment,” Caitlin said. “But if it’s something you’re passionate about and you can see yourself doing it long term – do it.” Carolyn Lange is a features writer for Live it! Magazine, and a reporter with the West Central Tribune in Willmar.

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Q&A: What does it takes to be a firefighter? By Carolyn Lange


rank Hanson was born and raised in Willmar. He served 19½ years as a police officer here and has served as a paid on-call firefighter in Willmar for 24 years. He is currently the full-time fire chief and fire marshal and Willmar’s emergency management director. “This very much is a dream job for me,” Hanson said. “Every second of this job is challenging one way or another. I think that’s one of the reasons I love this job, the other being able to serve the community and its citizens.” Hanson responded to questions about what it takes to be a firefighter and the role women are playing in fire departments.

Live it!: What is the process of applying, and being accepted, for a position on the Willmar Fire Department? Frank: Complete a Willmar firefighter application and return it to the fire station, successfully complete a written test both with firefighting-related and non-firefighting-related questions, complete an interview with the assistant chiefs, successfully complete the physical abilities test, successfully pass both criminal background and driving record checks and successfully complete both a medical and psychological exam and be approved by both doctors.

service has been growing for many years. I believe the Live it!: What initial and ongoing training is required? desire to serve their community is boosting this forward Frank: The initial training to become a firefighter for movement. Also the current female firefighters are showthe city of Willmar needs to be fully completed within ing other women that they can do it also, they just need to the first two years. During your first year on the departtake that first step in applying. ment, you must complete Firefighter 1, Firefighter 2 and Hazardous Material Operations training and become Live it!: How has the Willmar Fire Department been state-certified in all three areas. This is about a total of affected by having female firefighters on the team? 140 hours of training and takes about four months to comFrank: We have had female firefighters on and off since plete. This training is usually conducted through Ridgewathe late ’80s. It has come to be a normal thing for the Willter College Customized Training. mar Fire Department. Then once those are complete, the new firefighter must There have been no issues of the female firefighters complete 48 hours of Emergency Medical Responder being accepted by the male firefighters on the Willmar training. This must be done prior to the end of the second Fire Department. We are all one big family year of employment. and everyone is treated as such. SomeBut the training does not stop there. All “Every second of times I see other females that are in need Willmar firefighters train two to three this job is of help relating better to female firefightnights a month. This is above and beyond ers than to male firefighters. the basic training required. challenging one I feel the female firefighters fit in just way or another. as well as the male firefighters. They do Live it!: What are the typical physical I think that’s one equal tasks and help each other out if one and mental requirements needed to be cannot complete a task on their own. an effective firefighter? of the reasons I Frank: I think a firefighter needs to be love this job, the Live it!: What would you like the pubboth physically fit and mentally fit. other being able lic to know about the role the women Firefighters are always working hard, play in the department? no matter what role you are assuming at to serve the Frank: I think the role of women in fire training or a fire scene. Being physically community and its service is huge. There are many female fit is essential. The number one cause of citizens.” fire chiefs today. Everyone is a firefighter, line-of-duty deaths in firefighters is heart not a female firefighter or a male firefightattacks. er, but a firefighter. The community and fellow firefighters rely on the fireIf you think you’re interested, please seek information fighter’s ability to complete a job, anywhere from rescuabout it. Do not let the fact of you being a female discouring people from different emergencies to assisting others age you in anyway. Work hard and believe and you will with cleanup. make a good firefighter. There are many times where the mental aspect of the If you are not old enough to be a firefighter (18 years job is forgotten. This is just as important as anything else. old) and are interested, please try our fire explorer proIf a firefighter is not mentally prepared, it could cost them gram. their life. Firefighters see many bad things that can affect them both professionally and personally. Live it!: Why should someone become a volunteer firefighter? Live it!:There is a growing trend for women to serve Frank: To help others and your community. It can be on Greater Minnesota fire departments. Why is this time-consuming, but very rewarding! It must be somehappening? thing you love. Frank: I think the trend of women joining the fire

Live it! Magazine 13

- HEALTH & FITNESS Learning to love yourself before you can love others


By Amber Chevalier

ebruary, the month of love, everywhere you go there are hearts, flowers, candies and cards. People are making special dinner plans and surprise dates. Love is in the air! Love needs to begin within ourselves before we can spread it to others. Loving yourself means caring for yourself. That means you should be taking the time to exercise regularly, feeding yourself healthful foods, managing stress, and treating yourself every now and again. Think for a moment, these are all things you want for your loved ones, whether it is a significant other, child or close friend. Doing all of these activities allows you to function at your best and then you can give your best love to others. Loving yourself through exercise: Exercise can be any physical activity that gets your heart rate up for an extended period of time. Dancing, running, walking, shoveling or playing sports are just a few things you could do for exercise. Remember, if exercise hasn’t been a regular thing in your life for a while, you need to start at a low intensity or a shorter time and gradually increase to reduce your risk of injury. Doing something fun and that you enjoy is key to consistent exercise, so find what you like and run with it. Loving yourself through healthful eating: What we put in our body has a major impact in how we function throughout the day, what our moods are, how we feel overall, and how energetic we are. When whole grains, healthy fats, lean meat, fruits and vegetables are eaten regularly our bodies function better. Loving yourself through stress management: Stress can really weigh a person down, causing

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them to become tired, anxious, forgetful or angry. Managing your stress can be done in many ways. Some people exercise to help burn the stress out. Others get massages or pedicures. Some may see a counselor or meet a friend for coffee to talk things out. You may need to have a handful of things in mind to keep your stress managed, but just like exercise you want it to be something you enjoy so you continue to practice it. Loving yourself by treating yourself: We often forget that we need to be treated. We live in a society where everyone is continually busy and we forget to do fun things for ourselves. Perhaps you used to meet friends every week for a glass of wine or beer, you went on a nature hike every month to enjoy the stillness of the great outdoors, or you pampered yourself to a facial once a month – and then you quit. How do you feel? My guess is you feel like a part of you is missing. Treating yourself to these things again may just be what you need to complete that love for yourself. While loving and caring for others is important to complete the circle of love for ourselves, we need to be sure we start at the roots. The basics in life need to be met, and then we can spread joy and love from there. So as you go through this month of love think to yourself: What have I done today to show myself love?

Amber Chevalier is the ReYou Wellness Program coordinator and Wellness Care Guide at Rice Memorial Hospital in Willmar.

Do it! yourself

Fun with scrapbooking By Lu Fransen


n this age of digital photos sometimes it’s nice to look at a good old-fashioned photo album. I have four brothers and just one sister, so my sister-bond is very strong! I wanted to give her something special for Christmas and hit upon the idea of a “Sisters” scrapbook. I started by pouring through many photo albums and scanning in pictures of us through the years, some long ago, some recent. Each one brought back a flood of memories, which is what a photograph is supposed to do. Next, I had them printed at a local store. My home printer is not that good with photos so it was worth the money. With their coupon I got 50 photos for less than $15. Next I went to the craft store (a very dangerous place for many of us!) to buy supplies: scrapbook and extra pages, scrapbook paper, decorative stickers and words, and scrapbooking tape dispensers. Let your imagination go wild when picking out paper and stickers – the variety is endless. It took me well over an hour to choose mine! I chose plain paper that was colored on both


sides (then I only needed 1 sheet of paper for each plastic sleeve in the book) so the background would not detract from the photos and stickers. I think all together the supplies cost me less than $25 because I watched for sales on the supplies. Now it’s time to tape a photo on each side of the paper and decorate with stickers. I didn’t use many stickers, but you can use as many as you want. Then, insert the paper in the plastic sleeve. Keep going until the book is full. I decided to dress the front of my album by hot gluing some ribbon and a sticker. Your imagination will help you decide if you want to add to yours. This is a wonderful gift for Christmas, birthdays, anniversaries, graduations. It would also be a fun project to do with kids and grandkids. Who doesn’t love playing with stickers? Have fun.

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!

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Style it! Your easy 30-piece winter capsule wardrobe


By Kenzie Tenney

his past spring, I was on a quest to live a more “experience-focused” life rather than a materialistic one. And while I have bought some new items in the past year, I’m still keeping up with the conscious thought of wants versus needs. I found it was fairly easy to create summer and fall capsule wardrobes, and I wanted to keep my clutter-free life going into the winter season. We all know Minnesota winters can be brutal, so for my winter capsule wardrobe, I not only focused on versatile items that would work in many different ways, like finding different patterns, graphics, solids and colors that would all work well together, but good quality items that would keep me warm throughout the season. Here’s what I came up with: Basics 1 pair skinny jeans 1 pair of fleece-lined Leggings 1 pair of black skinnies 1 pair of slacks 1 sweater dress 3 blouses (2 button downs) 2 flannels 4 sweaters (black, lightweight, basic, gray) 3 cardigans (gray, chunky cacoon, blush) 4 tees (black graphic, relaxed red, gray, black v-neck) 3 tanks (striped, cream, draped)

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Footwear Trendy winter boots Sneakers Booties Tall boots Heeled boots Outerwear 1 casual winter jacket 1 dressier winter jacket Kenzie Tenney is a freelance writer for Live it! Magazine


Financial resolutions for the New Year


By Craig Popp

ere you among the majority of Americans who made a New Year’s resolution? By now you’re probably ready to hit the reset button. According to U.S. News, 80 percent of resolutions fail by the second week of February. Instead of those familiar resolutions, refocus on something else that’s also good for you in the long-run – your financial health. Here are four suggestions that, if followed, will go a long way toward helping ensure your future will be financially secure. Add one month to your emergency fund An emergency fund can help avoid letting unexpected expenses or events lead you to financial ruin. Unfortunately, a majority of adults have zero dollars saved for an emergency. Building this fund takes time, so start by saving one month’s worth of living expenses; and add one additional month per year until you reach the recommended six to twelve months. If you have an emergency fund, calculate how long it will last and add another month this year if you are not within the recommended range. Boost your retirement contributions If your employer offers a retirement savings plan, be sure to contribute enough to qualify for 100 percent of the matching contribution. Not doing so is the equivalent of leaving money on the table. Also, consider increasing your contribution by 1 percent per year or directing your annual pay raise into a retirement account. (Matching contributions may be subject to a vesting schedule, please review your plan documents or speak with a financial professional for more information.) Increasing your savings rate can make a big difference in retirement. The chart details the difference between an individual saving 4 percent annually versus someone who starts at 4 percent and increases 1 percent per year until reaching 10 percent. That may seem like a big sacrifice. However, by establishing a savings habit now, you are opening the doors for what you can do during your retirement years.

Review your portfolio’s asset allocation The ups and downs of the market will affect your asset allocation over time. This can leave your portfolio with an allocation and risk profile that differs from what you originally intended. For example, after nine years of positive returns from stocks, a portfolio that was allocated 60 percent stocks / 40 percent bonds has drifted to an allocation of almost 80 percent stocks / 20 percent bonds. It’s important to review your current and ideal asset allocation and rebalance as needed. (Asset allocation does not guarantee a profit nor protect against loss. The process of rebalancing may result in tax consequences.) Check your credit report Given the recent data breach at Equifax, obtaining your credit report is imperative. A review of your report allows you to determine your eligibility for credit increases, monitor recovery from past credit problems, and confirm if you have been a victim of identity theft. Federal law requires each of the three nationwide consumer credit reporting companies — Equifax, Experian and TransUnion — to provide you a free credit report every 12 months if you ask for it. You can get a copy from each agency at Check your credit report annually and review it with the same diligence as bank statements and credit card bills. Given it’s free, there is little reason not to do it. When it comes to New Year’s resolutions, most people set lofty goals. Since we know that most don’t survive that long, resolve to follow through on these — and then give yourself permission to spend a day lazing around watching movies and eating ice cream.

Bio/disclosure: Craig Popp, CFA is a financial advisor at the locally-owned, independent office of Raymond James Financial Services, Inc., member FINRA/SIPC at 115 Litchfield Ave SE in Willmar. Any opinions are those of Craig Popp and not necessarily those of RJFS or Raymond James. Investment advisory services offered.

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Wok it! Possibilities are endless with stir-fry dishes By Anne Polta


hen dinner needs to get on the table fast, it’s hard to go wrong with stir-fry. The preparation is easy, the flavors fresh and bold. Stir-frying originated in China as a technique for frying ingredients in very hot oil while stirring them in a wok. Over generations it has spread across Asia and parts of the West, eventually arriving in the United States with Chinese immigrants who introduced Americans to the delights of this form of quick cooking.

Stir-fries can consist entirely of vegetables. They can include beef, pork, chicken or shrimp. They adapt readily to variations such as the noodle-laden Pad Thai, popular at food carts on the streets of Thailand. You don’t have to own a wok in order to stir-fry, but you will need a skillet with a wide flat bottom. For best success, collect all the ingredients before you start stir-frying. Your skillet must be hot and once you start, the cooking will go swiftly.

Sichuan-style cashew chicken

Instead of ordering take-out, why not learn how to make this at home? Cashew chicken, a Chinese-American favorite, is inspired by Chinese stir-fry cuisine but actually originated at a family restaurant in Springfield, Mo., in the 1960s. The province of Sichuan in southwestern China is known for its boldly flavored dishes that often include liberal use of hot peppers. 1 pound boneless chicken breasts, cut into 1/2-inch cubes 1 tablespoon soy sauce 1 tablespoon rice wine or dry sherry 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 tablespoon cornstarch 2 teaspoons sugar 1 teaspoon vinegar 1/4 cup vegetable oil 1/2 to 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes 8 green onions, sliced diagonally 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger 1/2 cup unsalted whole cashews Combine 1 tablespoon soy sauce and 1 tablespoon rice wine in a bowl. Add chicken, stir to coat, and marinate for 30 minutes.

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While chicken is marinating, whisk together 2 tablespoons soy sauce, the cornstarch, sugar and vinegar; set aside. Heat oil in wok or skillet over high heat. Add red pepper and cook for about 30 seconds, stirring constantly. Add chicken and stir-fry for 2 minutes. Remove chicken from pan. Add green onions and minced fresh ginger to hot skillet and stir-fry for 1 minute. Return chicken to pan and continue to cook for another 2 minutes or until cooked through. While stirring constantly, slowly add soy sauce mixture, then the cashews, and stir until combined. Serve over hot cooked rice.

Wok it! Best fried rice

One of the secrets to making fried rice is to ensure the pre-cooked rice is dry before it’s added to the wok or skillet. If you use freshly cooked rice, spread it out on a baking sheet so the surface moisture can evaporate. The rice also can be cooked ahead of time and stored in a refrigerator, loosely covered, for a minimum of 12 hours. Feel free to experiment with the ingredients, adding extras such as diced red pepper, broccoli, or cooked and shredded chicken or pork 3 tablespoons canola oil 1 medium onion, diced 2 carrots, peeled and minced 1 tablespoon minced garlic, or to taste 1 cup frozen peas, thawed 1 tablespoon minced fresh ginger, or to taste 3 to 4 cups cooked rice 2 eggs, lightly beaten 1/4 cup water or sherry 2 tablespoons soy sauce 1 tablespoon sesame oil Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste 1/2 cup minced fresh cilantro or green onions Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in wok or large skillet over high heat. Add onion and carrots and cook, stirring

occasionally, until softened and beginning to brown, 5 to 10 minutes. Remove from wok and set aside. Drain peas, add to wok and cook until hot, about 1 minute. Remove from pan. Heat remaining oil in skillet; add garlic and ginger and stir until fragrant, about 15 seconds. Add rice and stir and toss until well coated with oil. Make a well in the center of the rice; pour in the eggs. Scramble eggs until set, then stir into the rice. Return vegetables to skillet and stir to blend. Add sherry or water and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute. Add soy sauce and sesame oil. Season with salt and pepper if necessary. Turn off the heat, stir in cilantro or green onions and serve immediately.

Pork and green bean stir-fry

The combination of pork and string beans is a stir-fry classic. Blanching the beans ahead of time allows them to tenderize and retain their green color. Be sure to drain them thoroughly before adding to the pan. 1 tablespoon vegetable oil 1 pound lean boneless pork loin, thinly sliced 10 ounces fresh whole green beans 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 teaspoons sugar 2 teaspoons soy sauce 1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger 1 teaspoon sesame oil 1 teaspoon rice vinegar Bring a pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add the green beans and blanch for 1 minute. Drain in colander and rinse under cold water until cooled. Set aside. Heat oil in skillet or wok over high heat. Stir-fry pork approximately 2 minutes, until it starts to turn brown.

Remove from pan. Add the beans and cook 5 to 6 minutes or longer, until tender. Return meat to pan, along with the garlic, and stir briefly until fragrant. Push meat and vegetables to one side, then add remaining ingredients, stirring to mix. Blend in the pork and beans. Serve immediately with hot cooked rice.

Anne Polta may be reached at or follow her on Twitter @AnnePolta

Live it! Magazine 19

- LIFE HAPPENS Offer grace in the face of disagreement


By Claudette Larson, LICSW

his past year has been a tumultuous year. Many of us have felt overwhelmed by events going on around us in our country and the

world. Everyday it seems as if the news cycle brings us more to gnash our teeth about and disagreements create inner angers and resentments that last in the mind far longer than they have carried on the tongue or keyboard. None of this is good for us. As people, what does this do to a person’s mental well-being? How do we find our way back to a healthy, kindness-centered reality? It is healthy and important to advocate for justice and what you feel is right. As a Social Worker with a Masters in Social Welfare, this is an integral part of who I am. Fighting inequality, oppression and injustice is not just a professional priority but a personal one. As a woman, I know some about inequality, but clearly, I drew a longer straw than many just being born a white, middle-class person in the greatest country in the world. One of the most important lessons I have learned is that one must separate issues from the individual. To change systems that are not fair or ethical, we must change the beliefs of those that hold the power


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to do so. Our minds are the most rigid when we are in defense mode. Defending ourselves from personal attacks will do nothing but close us to the possibilities of alternative thoughts, particularly of those that attack us. It seems to me that kindness and patience go a very long way in leaving the lines of communication open and the defenses down. At the same time, we continue to see the other person as just that: a fellow person and not our enemy. Although we may still see things differently, we can treat one another with respect. We leave the conversation with options for future discussions open. You will be surprised how much lighter you will feel when you can offer grace in the face of disagreement. Refuse to participate in emotional debates that go nowhere and offer you nothing. Put forth the kindness that makes, at the most, change of thought possible and, at the least, your peace of mind and well-being achievable. Take Care. 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’ ? February thru March 2018 Glacial Ridge Winery

Every Friday Spicer, 5 to 9 p.m. Fridays through March 16, Glacial Ridge Winery, state Highway 23 between New London and Spicer; free music concert by different individuals and groups.

Cy Amundson

Feb. 3 Dawson, 7:30 p.m., Memorial Auditorium; Winterfest weekend performance by comedian Cy Amundson; 320-312-2311.

‘Blithe Spirit’

Feb. 8-11 New London, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8-10; 2 p.m. Feb. 11, Little Theatre; “Blithe Spirit” stage production; tickets online at

‘Why Do Fools Fall in Love’

Feb. 8-11, 15-18, 22-25 Willmar, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 8-10, 15-17, 22-24; 2 p.m. Feb. 11, 18, 25, The Barn Theatre, 321 Fourth St. S.W., downtown; “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” stage production; 320-235-9500 or

Lena: A Moment with a Lady

Feb. 10 St. Joseph, 7:30 p.m., Escher Auditorium, College of St. Benedict; Broadway star Syndee Winters uses powerful vocals and a rich storyline to share the most pivotal moments in Lena Horne’s life; call 320-363-5777 or online at

Jerry O’Hagan Orchestra

Feb. 11 Glenwood, 3 to 7 p.m., Lakeside Ballroom; Winter Dance Club open to all, music by Jerry O’Hagan Orchestra; $10 per person, $5 ages 17-30; no jeans or shorts.

Green Lake Bluegrass

Feb. 16 New London, 7:30 p.m., Little Theatre; Green Lake Bluegrass Band presents “Cabin Fever Four!”; tickets online at


Feb. 16-17 St. Joseph, 7:30 p.m. Feb. 16; 2 p.m. Feb. 17, Escher Auditorium, College of St. Benedict. Ken Ludwig’s acclaimed adaptation of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s 1902 mystery, “The Hound of the Baskervilles.” Five talented actors play 40 quirky characters in this “hilarious” mystery. The heirs of the Baskerville line are being murdered one by one. Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson must work feverishly to crack the curse before it dooms the newest heir. Join in as these intrepid detectives follow leads, unravel clues, hit dead-ends and zigzag with the story until the shockingly funny conclusion; call 320-363-5777 or online at

‘Love Letters’

Feb. 22-25 New London, 7:30 p.m., Feb. 22-24; 2 p.m. Feb. 25, Little Theatre; “Love Letters”; tickets online at

West Central Concert Series

Feb. 23 Willmar, 7:30 p.m., WEAC; West Central Concert series presents “Windsync,” a woodwind quintet; for more information email; $20 at the door.

Gaelynn Lea

Feb. 23 Morris, 7:30 p.m., Edson Auditorium, University of Minnesota; classically trained violinist and songwriter Gaelynn Lea performs her haunting original songs and experimental takes on traditional fiddle music; call 320-589-6077 or online at

Yekwon Sonwoo

Feb. 25 Collegeville, 2 p.m., Humphrey Theatre, St. John’s University; Yekwon Sonwoo, gold medalist of the 15th Van Cliburn International Piano Competition, is a powerful and virtuosic performer. Born in Anyang, South Korea, he began learning piano at age 8. He gave both his recital and orchestral debuts in 2004 in Seoul before moving to the United States in 2005; call 320-363-5777 or online at www.

Willmar Area Symphonic Orchestra

March 4 Willmar, 3 p.m., WEAC; spring concert “Story Time”; adults $10, students $5; www.

Rose Ensemble

March 16 Collegeville, 8 p.m., Great Hall, St. John’s University; the Rose Ensemble presents “Welcome the Stranger,” set in 17th century Italy it honors the lives of twin Saints Benedict and Scholastica. The concert will showcase 500 years of music celebrating the unconditional hospitality of the Benedictines – much of it preserved in the Hill Museum and Manuscript Library; call 320-363-5777 or online at

Velvet Brass Band

March 18 Glenwood, 3 to 7 p.m., Lakeside Ballroom; Winter Dance Club open to all, music by Velvet Brass Band; $10 per person, $5 ages 17-30; no jeans or shorts.

Che Malambo

March 24 Collegeville, 7:30 p.m., Humphrey Theatre, St. John’s University; the legendary agility, strength and dexterity of the gauchos (cowboys) of Argentina fueled the creation of malambo. What was once a fast-paced competition of precision footwork has grown into one of the world’s most visually stunning dance forms; it’s filled with power, passion and energy; call 320-363-5777 or online at

Flamenco Vivo Carlota Santana

March 28 Morris, 7:30 p.m., Edson Auditorium, University of Minnesota; Carlota Santana directs performances that uphold the purity and traditions of flamenco and classical Spanish dance while pushing the boundaries of the art form in new direction; call 320-589-6077 or online at

Ukulele Orchestra of Great Britain

April 7 Collegeville, 7:30 p.m., Humphrey Theatre, St. John’s University; performance by 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.” They create “big fun” from small instruments as they slide playfully from Tchaikovsky to Spaghetti Western to Otis Redding. Bring your ukulele for a stringand-sing along; call 320-363-5777 or online at

Church of Cash

March 10 New London, 7:30 p.m., Little Theatre; Johnny Cash tribute true to the music and spirit of Johnny Cash; tickets online at www.

To list your event, email

Live it! Magazine 21


Don’t get boxed in


By Ron Skjong

he thought really irritates me. It’s the idea that because of your gender, you can only do certain things in life. I grew up with that philosophy and it upset me then and still does today. You know what I’m referring to – he can’t do that because he’s a boy or she can’t do that because she’s a girl. Ugh and double ugh! As a matter of point, triple ugh!! Maybe what I’m referencing is stereotyping. It’s obvious there are differences between women and men but that doesn’t mean those differences relate to boxing someone into a certain lifestyle. Au contraire, mon ami! (On the contrary, my friend!) Allow me to use a personal example. While growing up on the farm and after the Thanksgiving or Christmas meal, it was expected for the men of the family to sit in front on the TV and watch football games. The women of the family were to stay in the kitchen or any other room but not in the TV room. There they could do lady things and talk “lady talk.” I didn’t like that feeling of being boxed into a pattern of behavior and so I would spend time with both the male group and the female group. Many times the conversations within the female group were much more interesting than talking only about how the game was progressing. Needless to say, I learned a lot about people and about myself during those holiday periods. I pledged never to allow myself to get boxed into a certain behavior because I was male. Likewise, I pledged never to allow myself nor those around me to box females into certain stereotyped boxes simply because of their sex. Whew, now that I’ve got that off my chest it’s time for a glass of wine and I’m going to pour it from … a box.

22 Live it! Magazine

Wine from a box? Oh, yes, mon ami! In the words of Bob Dylan, the times they are a-changin’! It’s alright for wine to be boxed in; but first a bit of a back story. The Australians produced the very first box of wine in 1965 but those initial boxes of wine weren’t very good. The boxes didn’t protect the wine and because the vintners didn’t want their better wines to get tainted, they boxed some very cheap “two buck chuck”-type of wines and the public responded negatively. Thankfully the wine world paid attention and today’s boxed wine is very good, for a number of reasons. First and foremost, good quality wine is being put into the polyethylene bag (known as the bib) – the same plastic used to protect our foods. So, no problem with packaging but don’t expect the wine to age in the box. If its aging you’re seeking, stick with bottles because they allow light and a minute amount of oxygen to help with the aging process. The typical box of opened wine can be kept in the refrigerator for six to eight weeks but if unopened,


it can easily last 10 to 12 months without its quality being compromised. A bottled wine should be consumed within five days of opening but, if unopened, the bottle can age for many years. Note the difference? If it’s value you’re seeking, a boxed wine is your baby. A standard box of wine holds about four bottles of the beverage. The average price of a bottle of wine is around $8 so that would mean the boxed wine should cost about $32, right? Nope! It’s not unusual to buy a box of wine for about two-thirds the cost of the similar amount of bottled wine. That’s a bargain. Are you concerned about the environment? Those bottles cost a lot to manufacture and to transport – bottles are made of heavy glass and when filled with wine, they cost even more to transport. However, the box is cheaper to produce and to transport because it weighs less. Those are some of the pros and cons of boxed wine and, perhaps, the question remains – which packaging is better, the box or the bottle? That’s for you to decide, but I’ve tasted some darn good Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon from Naked Grape. Black Box has an excellent lineup of

boxed wines and I do like their Pinot Noir. If you like a sweet wine, Franzia’s White Zinfandel is very good. In today’s world, I wouldn’t hesitate grabbing a box of wine for that big celebration. You would be surprised the conversations that occur around a box of wine. And if you’re thinking about buying a boxed wine for that special someone at Valentine’s Day, buy it, lovingly wrap it and give it. As you sip the holiday wine, you can take comfort knowing you and that special person can relive that special moment for a long time to come – there’s six to eight weeks of wine in that box. Just remember that being boxed in is alright in the world of wine but never when it comes to the world of people. 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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February/March 2018 issue of Live it! Magazine  

West Central Tribune Lifestyle magazine

February/March 2018 issue of Live it! Magazine  

West Central Tribune Lifestyle magazine