Yellowstone Valley Woman Magazine

Page 38

YVW Gift Guide Our picks for your holiday gift list Making the Season Sparkle Give your home some wow factor Empty Stockings Making the season bright for foster kids 44 52 78 BILLINGS’ MOST READ MAGAZINE | NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022 COMPLIMENTARY ashley ashley ashley robichaux robichaux robichaux 30 For this Cajun, food is a labor of Love
A stroke can happen any time, day or night. That’s why Billings Clinic o ers the highest level of stroke care, 24/7. We serve patients from across Montana and northern Wyoming with a full-time, specially trained team who uses the most advanced technology in emergent stroke treatment. This means patients don’t have to travel out of our region for time-sensitive life-saving procedures. To learn more about Mary’s story and our Stroke Care services, please visit billingsclinic.com/mary They told me my mom was having astroke and needed a thrombectomy.
406.254.1550 | 1550 Poly Dr, Billings | 444 N 9th St Ste 5, Columbus | 201 Broadway Ave S, Red Lodge | www.bhhsfloberg.com Amy Kraenzel 406.591.2370 Sarah Kindsfather 406.690.7469 Marissa Amen 406.855.7727 Angela Slade 406.672.1512 Lynsey O’Brien Peek 406.861.8851 Jon Pierce 406.855.0368 Don Moseley 406.860.2618 Catie Gragert 406.697.4321 Toni Hale 406.690.3181 Lance Egan 406.698.0008 Cindy Dunham 406.425.0182 John McMurray 406.425.5009 Stella Ossello Burke 406.690.9955 Erika Burke 406.544.8033 Cheryl Gross 406.698.7423 Myles Egan 406.855.0008 Ginger Nelson 406.697.4667 Maya Burton 406.591.0106 Susan B. Lovely 406.698.1601 Scott Hight 406.425.1101 Jeff Watson 406.672.2515 Rhonda Grimm 406.661.7186 Suzie Countway 406.671.1595 ©2022 BHH Affiliates, LLC. An independently owned and operated franchisee of BHH Affiliates, LLC. Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices and the Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices symbol are registered service marks of Columbia Insurance Company, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate. Equal Housing Opportunity. Anita Dolan 406.869.7639 Tony Contreraz 406.671.2282 James Movius 406.670.4711 Karen Frank 406.698.0152 Team Hanel Tom Hanel 406.690.4448 Robin Hanel 406.860.6181 Jeanne Peterson 406.661.3941 Brett Taylor 406.671.0519 Mark Winslow 406.671.7305 Brandon Treese 406.647.5007 Judy Shelhamer 406.850.3623 Carlene Taubert 406.698.2205 Team Smith Beth Smith Owner 406.861.9297 Dan Smith Owner 406.860.4997 Gathering at Summerfest to support Red Lodge! Community Corner Korinne Rice 406.697.0678 DO YOU KNOW WHAT YOUR HOME IS WORTH? Contact an agent for a Home Market Analysis. Kim Gottwals 406.696.3675
...FOR FAMILY SNOW ADVENTURES! Winter months in Montana offer so much fun if you are prepared. The 2023 Yukon is the ultimate winter vehicle with seating for up to 9 and 4WD. Transport your friends and family safely, with confidence and comfort. Stop by GMC of Billings for a test drive and come meet me! Josh Soares - Owner. Season 'TIS THE
Open Monday - Saturday 8 to 7 Sunday is FAMILY DAY so we are CLOSED. 840 South Shiloh Road, Just off King (406) 651-5000 www.GMCBillings.com 2023 GMC YUKON

Letter

CAN I BRAG ON YOU, OUR YVW READERS, FOR JUST A MINUTE? Honestly, you did something amazing this year. For the first time in Yellowstone Valley Woman Magazine history, you helped choose the cover woman of this very issue!

In our July issue and on our social media channels, we asked you to think hard about the inspirational women in your life who could use a little recognition. You responded loudly! At the end of our six-week campaign, we had more than 40 nominations sharing the stories of some pretty incredible women.

While I was sitting and flipping through all the nominees, I was a little overwhelmed and wondered how I would ever choose just one. I eventually called on Kelsey Wagner and Leah Swalley, a.k.a. the “For the Blank” ladies, to help me sift through them all.

I’ll never forget our meeting. We all had scribbled little notes on each nomination form. When Leah and Kelsey told me they had whittled their list down to three, I said, “OK, let’s just throw our number one in the middle and we’ll talk it out.” It didn’t take us long to realize that all three of us chose the same woman — Ashley Robichaux, owner of Cajun Phatty’s, a Lousiana-inspired restaurant on Billings’ West End.

What struck us all was how she seemingly flew under our radar. Sure, we knew of her tasty cuisine. Sure, we’d heard about her giving spirit. But, we had no idea how big that giving spirit was. It wasn’t until a friend of hers, Mary Beth Beaulieu, spelled it out that we were able to fully comprehend the magnitude of Ashley’s contributions to this community. I hope you flip to page 30 and read her story. It’s one full of inspiration and heart.

So, what happened to the other 39plus nominees? I will tell you that it’s not over for them. There were so many stories woven into those nominations that we can’t wait to dig further into the pile to honor a few more women. I’d give you a few little hints on the stories we can’t wait to share but I think I’ll hold onto these surprises a wee bit longer.

This issue is typically one of my favorites, and as you move from page to page, you’ll see why. We take all year to cultivate stories that will help make your holidays bright – from just the right décor, to fun seasonal recipes, to YVW’s favorites for holiday gift giving.

This year, however, brings another feature that we hope lasts for years to come. On page 78, you’ll see “Empty Stockings.” We’ve partnered with Child and Family Services to bring you the wishes of dozens of foster care children for the holidays. We hope, with your help, that we can deliver some Christmas spirit to these kiddos who have already been through so much. I hope that, with close to 900 kids in foster care in Yellowstone County alone, some of you feel called to play “Santa” for some of them. We’ll keep these listings updated on our website to fill you in on new children that might just be entering the foster care system. Thank you in advance for your generosity. Our YVW readers never disappoint!

As you gather to celebrate this beautiful season, know you are close to our hearts. We’re wishing you all the blessings possible! ✻

FROM THE Editor
6 YVW MAGAZINE

Tour & Take Out at Westpark Village 23

Avenue, Billings, MT

We invite you to come tour our thriving community

sipping

cider or hot

To show our appreciation you will take home a

prepared by the Culinary Director at Westpark Village. westparksenior.com

of

51 Solomon
while
on
chocolate.
delicious charcuterie board
treats specially
INDEPENDENT LIVING | ASSISTED LIVING | MEMORY CARE | RESPITE CARE Call Kimberlee at 406-652-4886 to reserve your date and time today.
nov/dec 2022 26 86 30 38 52 92 In Every Issue 68 LOOK WHAT WE FOUND: Gnome Sweet Gnome 76 HEART GALLERY: Meet D'Jo-Lee 80 KAREN GROSZ: Becoming Mrs. Claus 82 TASTE OF THE VALLEY: Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo! On The Cover 30 ASHLEY ROBICHAUX For this Cajun, food is a labor of Love Women Making a Difference 14 KAREN PEARSON A Warrior for Veterans 18 HONORING THE FALLEN Gold Star Mother adorns the headstones of veterans each Christmas season 22 HORSES, SPIRITS, HEALING Amanda Tusler uses horses to help veterans heal 26 SACRIFICIAL SERVICE Katie LaBeef splits time between family, two careers and the Montana Army National Guard Features 38 THE SWEET SMELL OF SUCCESS Friendship leads to growth of Rock Creek Soaps 44 YVW GIFT GUIDE Our picks for your holiday gift list 52 MAKING THE SEASON SPARKLE Create a little wow factor in your home this holiday season 58 CELEBRATING THE SEASON IN NATURE Use this festive time for 25 days of eco-friendly surprises 62 BECOMING CLARA Dancers taste joy, disappointment as they strive for the Nutcracker role 70 DECORATIONS TO MAKE DREAMS COME TRUE Kim Boelter transforms her home with the magic of Christmas at heart 78 EMPTY STOCKINGS 2022 Making the season bright for foster children 86 RED FOR THE HOLIDAYS Cranberries bring color to the season YVW Home 92 A FAMILY AFFAIR Farmhouse comes together with all hands-on deck to build it 104 SAVING SPACE (& SANITY) Why many are taking the deep dive into master closet organization YVW MAGAZINE8

TERRY

406-860-3951

TRISH SCOZZARI: 406-690-9528

LYNN LANGELIERS: 406-671-2325

MICHELE KONZEN: 406-690-4539

lynn langeliers Sales Executive Michele Konzen Sales Executive melanie Fabrizius Design daniel sullivan Photography Terry Perkins Sales Executive trish scozzari
Sales Executive / Writer casey
Page Photography LAURA BAILeY
Special
Section
Editor Social Media / Writer ed
kemmick
Copy Editor / Writer meet the STAFF we our community partners PUBLISHER & EDITOR JULIE KOERBER julie@yellowstonevalleywoman.com COPY EDITOR ED KEMMICK SPECIAL SECTION EDITOR LAURA BAILEY ADVERTISING
PERKINS:
terry@yellowstonevalleywoman.com
trish@yellowstonevalleywoman.com
lynn@yellowstonevalleywoman.com
michele@yellowstonevalleywoman.com CREATIVE DIRECTOR MELANIE FABRIZIUS ads@yellowstonevalleywoman.com DISTRIBUTION NICOLE BURTELL CONTACT Yellowstone Valley Woman PO Box 23204 Billings, MT 59104 Phone: 406-254-1394 www.yellowstonevalleywoman.com ©2022 Media I Sixteen All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced without written permission from the publisher. ON THE COVER Photography by Daniel Sullivan Clothing by Neecee's, Makeup by Sanctuary Spa & Salon 9NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
Learn more about scholarships Invest in MSUB msubillings.edu/scholarships msubfoundation.com/whattosupport • Complete one application and be connected to 500+ scholarships • 81% of full-time, first-time freshman students awarded aid • Awards range from book scholarships to full tuition • Application opens November 1 Build your future… MSU Billings awards over $1.8 million in scholarships annually msubillings.edu • call 406-657-2888 • text 406-412-1324
Women’s health is our priority RiverStone Health o ers family planning services to meet your needs. • All forms of contraception • Pregnancy counseling Prenatal visits • Labor, delivery, postnatal and newborn care RiverStone Health is here for you. 123 South 27th Street • Billings, MT 59101 • 406.247.3350 • RiverStoneHealth.org
Dog Tag Buddies | dogtagbuddies.org | 406.969.1227 The story doesn't have to end h With your support, we can help veterans, one rescue at a time.20+ a day. Dog Tag Buddies helps veterans with hidden Your tax-deductible donation supports a Montana nonprofit serving Montana always at no cost to the veteran. They support of a service dog. Our services are served us, now it is up to us to serve them. injuries live more fulfilling lives through the veterans and their families. 12 YVW MAGAZINE

THEY HONOR THE FALLEN, serve those who have served, help heal the brokenness of war and forge new paths for other female soldiers. This Veterans Day, Nov. 11, YVW salutes the women who are making a difference in the lives of veterans and in the military.

Saluting theSaluting theSaluting theSaluting the women women women Difference Difference Difference making amaking amaking amaking a
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022 13

Pearson Karen Karen Pearson Pearson Karen

A WARRIOR FOR VETERANS written by CYDNEY HOEFLE photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN
YVW MAGAZINE14

“WHEN A VETERAN HAS THE COURAGE to walk through our front door, it’s because he or she wants to change,” Karen Pearson says. “We help grow that. We accept them as they are, where they are and work with that.”

Stepping into Adaptive Performance Center (APC), you’ll see those words in action. Karen and co-founder Mitch Crouse opened the center, the only “veterans-only” gym in the country. The gym was the brainchild of Karen, a licensed clinical professional counselor and certified fitness coach, and Mitch, a certified personal trainer.

In two years, the gym has grown to more than 550 members ranging in age from 18 to 80. It’s a concept that was in the works for some time before Karen and Mitch took it from paper to opening the doors on this business.

“It has been a long haul, but worth it,” Karen says. “I love spending my days here.”

From there, Karen opened her private practice, Alpine Counseling, which she operated for 17 years. The O.J. Simpson trial was making headlines at the time, and legislative change regarding domestic violence began to take place. Karen got on board and designed a 10-week anger management program, which was later required for anyone convicted with domestic violence.

“That’s when I realized that you treat people like people, not criminals,” she says. “If you treat people like they are objects and not worthy of respect, you won’t get anywhere with them.”

Her approach worked. In the years she offered the program, she was given 90 percent of the referrals from agencies that required the program. It was from there, and the effects of the 9/11 attacks, that Karen became increasingly aware of difficulties that veterans suffer after returning to civilian life.

Karen began her professional career working at the Yellowstone Boys and Girls Ranch, where she specialized in behavior disorders.

“I knew fairly quickly that I couldn’t spend my career rolling on the floor with kids,” she laughs. “So, I decided to get my master’s.” She has a master’s degree in special education and community counseling, which enabled her to become a licensed clinical professional counselor.

“PTSD, depression and suicide, they dealt with it all,” she says. “After 9/11, it felt like the world had gone to hell in a handbasket. Guys that were returning home weren’t the same. There was plenty of money being spent by the government on studies that revealed what they were suffering from, but there wasn’t any being spent on programs to help them deal with it. It became very frustrating.”

Determined to do what she could, Karen came up with a program geared toward veterans that was similar to her anger management program. She took it all the way to the Pentagon in 2006 before

GUYS GENERATIONS APART IN AGE HAVE A CAMARADERIE THAT THEY WOULDN'T HAVE IF THEY HADN'T SERVED. THEY REALLY SUPPORT EACH OTHER. AND, WE GET TO BE A PART OF THAT EVERY DAY
15NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

she was shut down.

“It’s hard to get anywhere with the government,” she explains. “I had one connection that helped me get that far and then he was transferred, and I was back to ground zero.”

Discouraged, but not ready to give up, Karen decided to change careers. She shut down her private practice and began pursuing a career in physical fitness.

“It was a far stretch from counseling,” she says, “and at first I did it for me.”

Karen had a heart scare that woke her up to the need to get in shape. Both of her parents had heart trouble, and when she did a stress test at age 47, her doctor told her, “You’re a skinny fat woman,” meaning that even though she was in her target range for weight, her heart was not healthy.

“It was then that I quit being a ‘competitive sitter’ and decided to take my health seriously,” she says.

Karen became a certified yoga instructor and a personal trainer at Yellowstone Fitness and her life took a turn from there. In 2014, as a single mom realizing she needed to take control of her health, she started working out with her son’s swim coach, Mitch Crouse.

“Mitch was a personal trainer at YF and taught me weights,” she says. “After a while, we decided since we both worked there, we should partner up and offer fitness challenges to the members. We decided to do something that makes fitness fun, otherwise people won’t keep doing it.”

It went over well and became very popular with the members. But she hadn’t lost the urge to help veterans. Every time Karen would see the latest report on veterans’ suffering, it hit her harder. Mitch was soon caught up in the same frustration. While watching the Super Bowl in 2017, an ad appeared that showed an NFL player mentoring a wheelchair-bound veteran at a gym in Texas. The idea was to match up vets with a mentor to help them with their physical fitness.

“It triggered something in both of us,” Karen says. “What if we had a full gym? What if we could find a place for these vets to come work out and hang out? What if it was all veterans?”

Research had already proven that exercise can provide healing to a body wracked with PTSD, anxiety and depression. The energized duo jumped in with both feet, coming up with a marketing plan, submitting paperwork for nonprofit status and networking with anyone willing to listen to their ideas. Things began to happen.

“It was unreal,” Karen says. “Every step we took was difficult, but from the beginning, we’ve had incredible support from the community.”

The owners of the building held off on collecting rent for a period. The company that sold them exercise equipment gave them an incredible discount and then offered months to pay it off. Donations started coming in, even while the concept was still just an idea. And then Covid-19 hit.

“We opened on March 2, 2020, and Covid hit a few weeks later,” Karen says. “That first week we gained 45 members, and everything shut down. We didn’t know what was going to happen.”

Thankfully, their business was classified under rehabilitation instead of a gym and deemed essential, allowing them to stay open.

“It was a godsend,” Karen continues. “We tried so hard to get veterans

YVW MAGAZINE16

to come and we didn’t want to close on them. They may be resilient, but lots of them are fragile too.”

What happened next was nothing short of a miracle. Veterans began coming. Some, who followed every post on APC’s Facebook page, finally had enough courage to walk through the front door. They continue to come. No members are turned away and many memberships are paid by donations.

Zoo Lights

Take time out of the holiday shopping frenzy, pack up the family in the car and enjoy a magical holiday light display during ZooMontana’s Zoo Lights.The display will be open in December - the 7th-8th, 14th15th, and 20th-24th from 5pm to 9pm each night. zoomontana.org

APC is not a typical gym. Instead of seeing exercise equipment when entering, a relaxing, welcoming lounge is the first impression. The couple has intentionally decorated the front with comfy couches, inviting veterans to sit and visit for a while. The coffee pot is always full and two golden retrievers make up the welcoming committee.

Chase h awks Rodeo

Touted as one of the best rough stock rodeos in America, the Chase Hawks Rodeo takes place in the Rimrock Auto Arena on December 22nd.Top cowboys and stock come straight from the National Finals Rodeo in Las Vegas to compete right here in Billings, Montana. And best of all, it’s for a great cause. The Chase Hawks Memorial Association works to bring comfort and assistance to families during times of tragedy and crisis.metrapark.com

“We want veterans to feel safe here and it’s been amazing,” Karen says. “Guys generations apart in age have a camaraderie that they wouldn’t have if they hadn’t served. They really support each other. And we get to be part of that every day.”

Besides working at the gym, Karen and Mitch worked for the past two and a half years on the production of a full-length documentary highlighting the phenomenon of veteran suicide. Every day, 22 veterans in the United States take their own lives. During Covid, that number was slightly higher.

“The suicide rate is unacceptable,” Karen says. “This film exposes how difficult it is for veterans.”

The documentary, featuring several members of the gym along with veterans and their families across the country, shares heartbreaking stories of veterans taking their lives, of the guilt that they live with because they survived war and others did not and the difficulty of adjusting to civilian life.

“It’s heart-wrenching,” Karen says. “But it’s real. We’re trying to do something about it by working toward eliminating the rate of

veteran suicide through physical fitness and recreate a community for them.”

The 90-minute film has been shown multiple times in Billings and is making its way across the nation. It’s been entered at the Sundance Film Festival competition and the couple hopes to have it streaming soon.

Beauty & the Beast

Billings Studio Theatre presents “Disney’s Beauty and the Beast Junior,” January 10th-13th. Brainy and beautiful Belle yearns to escape her narrow and restricted life including her brute of a suitor, Gaston. Belle gets adventurous and as a result becomes a captive in the Beast’s enchanted castle! Dancing flatware, menacing wolves and singing furniture fill the stage with thrills during this beloved fairy tale about very different people finding strength in one another as they learn how to love.billingsstudiotheatre.com

F R inge Festiva L

In August, APC brought another national event aimed at veteran suicide prevention to Billings by hosting the first Walk the Bridge at Sword’s Park atop the Rims. Entrants walk 2.2 miles symbolizing the roughly 22 suicides witnessed in this country each day. The first event attracted more than 40 people, most having a close connection with someone who committed suicide. From here on, APC plans on having the walk on the 22nd of each month, yearround, and they’d love the community to join

Venture Theatre presents its Fringe Festival, January 18th-19th and 25th-26th.The festival features four nights of shows featuring local and regional performing artists of all types including dance, standup comedy, theater improv, one act plays, musicals, performance art, spoken word/poetry, and puppetry.venturetheatre.org

s ou L s t R eet d an C e

“Our desire is to help as many veterans as we can,” Karen says. “Something magical happens every day at our gym. We see life come back in the eyes of our veterans as they rediscover themselves and heal. That makes everything we do worth it.” ✻

TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ADAPTIVE PERFORMANCE CENTER ,visit adaptiveperformancecenter. org. You can also find them on Facebook or by calling (406)281-3848.

This high energy show comes to the Alberta Bair Theater on January 19th and presents a new era in dance, while pushing the artistic boundaries of street dance. Soul Street concerts consist of a mix of movement that will keep you at the edge of your seat. The music is combined with an electric mix ranging from hip-hop to classical. It’s a show that will make you laugh and keep audiences of all ages entertained.

CYDNEY HOEFLE, writer

a Con C e R t F o R the w ho L e Fami Ly

A fourth generation Montanan, Cydney was raised on a ranch on the banks of the Yellowstone River where an appreciation of the outdoors was fostered. She and her husband raised three children in Billings and are now the proud grandparents of three. The best part of any of her days is time spent with Jesus, family, friends, a good book or capturing someone’s story in words.

Billings Symphony presents its Family Concert on January 26th at the Alberta Bair Theater. Four time Grammy nominees, “Trout Fishing in America,” will perform along with the Billings Symphony. Trout Fishing in America is a musical duo which performs folk rock and children’s music. billingssymphony.com

To have your events listed here, email jessica@billings365.com YELLOWSTONEVALLEYWOMAN.COM | DECEMBER 2012/JANUARY 2013 63 Go to billingspolice.com or call 247-8590 for more information. Volunteers are needed to work 4 hour shifts once per week. 17NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
18 YVW MAGAZINE

GOLD STAR MOTHER ADORNS THE HEADSTONES OF VETERANS EACH CHRISTMAS SEASON

in Iraq, Nate and four other soldiers were flown to Syria on a special mission. They returned to base, and by the end of the following weekend, three of the five died by suicide. Nate was one of them.

Lockwood home. Kathy is the owner of TaxTime, a tax prep company. She assembles the wreaths around her full-time work schedule, and this year, she’s gotten help from the residents at Starner Gardens senior living community. They get together on Mondays once a month to make bows for the wreaths.

THE FALLENTHE FALLEN HONORING
HONORING HONORING THE FALLEN 19NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

In mid-December, Kathy will put the call out for volunteers to help her lay the wreaths on the veterans’ graves. They start with a small ceremony and a prayer, and as each volunteer lays a wreath, Kathy asks that they say, out loud, the name of the veteran buried there.

“Every time their name is said, they are not forgotten,” she says. “I don’t ever want Nate to be forgotten, and I know these families don’t want their loved ones to be forgotten.”

Last year, more than 20 people helped lay the wreaths out. They included her family and friends, and veterans from around Billings. Picking up the wreaths in early January is harder work, with fewer volunteers, Kathy says.

Kathy has covered the cost of all the materials for the wreaths, with the exception of a few donations from friends, local veterans and families of veterans buried at Mountview Cemetery. She knows she could do more fundraising but said she doesn’t like calling attention to herself.

When Nate died, Kathy said she felt all alone. She wondered if anyone knew the depth of the pain she was experiencing. She wants to one day help other Gold Star Mothers work through their grief, but she knows she must conquer her grief first — one wreath at a time.

“Every time I make a wreath, I’m thinking about somebody else’s family and I’m thinking about Nate,” Kathy says.

534-1439 710 Black Hawk, Unit F2, Billings www.discreetsolutionsinc.com LOCALLYOWNED ANDOPERATED Live IN THE MOMENT! Quality Incontinence Supplies delivered to your door every month!
WREATHS FOR HEROES HELP IN THE EFFORT If you want to support Kathy Gordon’s project, Wreaths for Heroes, you can help lay out wreaths in mid-December and help pick them up in early January. Kathy is also accepting donations for supplies. For more information, call Kathy at 406-794-5643Al’s Bootery & repAir 1820 1st Ave. North, Billings (406) 245-4827 t www.AlsBootery.com As unique and individual as you are. B lack J ack B oots now available at t Custom designed t Exotic skins available t Handmade in the USA 20 YVW MAGAZINE
CAPTION? Visit us online! EXCLUSIVE ONLINE CONTENT EXCLUSIVE ONLINE CONTENT EXCLUSIVE ONLINE CONTENT COMMUNITY’S MOST TRUSTED EXPERTS! from our COMMUNITY’S MOST TRUSTED EXPERTS! COMMUNITY’S MOST TRUSTED EXPERTS! 21NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
AMANDA TUSLER USES HORSES TO HELP VETERANS HEAL written by CYDNEY HOEFLE photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN
Horses Horses, , Spirits Spirits, Spirits, , Healing Healing Healing Horses , YVW MAGAZINE22

IT’S BEEN SAID THAT HORSES can hear your heartbeat from four feet away. In fact, studies have revealed that a horse’s heart will synchronize with a human as they interact.

“They mirror our emotions,” Amanda Tusler says. “Within 30 minutes, a horse’s heart rate will match up to whomever is working with them. They really connect with humans.”

Amanda is the program director at Horses Spirits Healing Inc. (HSHI), a nonprofit equestrian center for veterans, located north of Billings on Highway 3. Just 10 miles away from the bustle of town, the property is flanked by public land and dotted with sagebrush and sandstone bluffs, giving it privacy and a sense of tranquility.

Several corrals hold horses that are the nucleus of the program. Cuzco, a miniature horse, can pull a small cart large enough for one person and is a favorite of the veterans.

“He’s strong, and so good,” Amanda says proudly. “Our veterans love him. Kids do, too.”

In the adjacent corral, a draft horse, a bay and two ponies wait to be pampered and exercised by the volunteers between lessons. There are 11 horses in all, and Amanda oversees all of them.

Amanda graduated from Rocky Mountain College with degrees in psychology and equine science with an emphasis in therapeutic training. She graduated in 2018 and began her career at HSHI just two days later.

“It’s been a really good fit for me,” she says. “I’m proud to be a part of this. It’s amazing to see the healing that takes place here.”

The mission of Horses Spirits Healing is to offer alternative therapy to veterans. In the Billings area alone, there are more than 25,000 veterans, and 15 percent of them have a disability or suffer from brain injuries, depression or post-traumatic stress disorder. That equates to more than 3,000 veterans in our area alone. HSHI has seen positive results in the veterans who have taken advantage of the program and they hope to reach more.

“We try and reach the veterans by introducing them to the program slowly,” Amanda says. “We meet them where they are at. Some have never even been around horses, so we start with horsemanship, grooming and safety from the ground up.”

Many veterans enjoy just being around horses. The non-threatening atmosphere, which allows them to move at their own pace, seems to help them relax.

“Sometimes even the repetition of brushing a horse soothes both the horse and the groomer,” Amanda says.

Lorraine Schleder, retired Air Force, can’t say enough about what the program has done for her. As an ICU and flight nurse, Lorraine was heavily involved in the patient movement in the aftermath of the 9/11 terror attacks and later in the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022 23

Lorraine is now the sole caregiver for her elderly parents and operates the family farm near Shepherd. She struggles to find time for herself.

“This has been an absolute godsend for me,” Lorraine says. “With all that’s going on in my life, I’m never able to turn off and catch my breath. When I’m with the horses, the world stops, my mind and heart go quiet and a peace comes over me. I can’t say enough about the good that has come out of being part of the program.”

The facility was established in 2014 when husband-and-wife team Barbara Skelton and Paul Gatzemeier decided to honor Paul’s father, a World War II, by offering something to veterans combating psychological trauma and physical disabilities.

They have owned the facility for several decades. Rocky Mountain College once ran its equestrian program there, and after the college moved to another site, it seemed to be the perfect time to move forward with their dream.

Over the last five years, dozens of veterans have taken advantage of the program, and HSHI hopes that even more will try the free program.

“There’s something for everyone out here,” Amanda says. “We teach riding lessons and care of the horses. We work in the arena and even go on trail rides.”

Funded through the Veterans Administration along with state and federal grants, the programs are free to any veteran and their family members. It’s also free for active-duty military and their families and for first responders. Amanda is quick to add that without the help of private donors and a slew of volunteers, they wouldn’t be able to do what they do.

“Every veteran has someone with them all the time,” she says. “There’s someone to show them, teach them and listen to them.”

Along with Amanda, several other staff members hold degrees in equestrian therapy, and one day per week a counselor is on site for more extensive counseling. Programs include private lessons and group lessons. Veterans are thoughtfully paired with the program that works best for them.

Amanda recalls one veteran who still holds a place in her heart. “Tom Angel was a Vietnam vet,” she says. “He grew up riding horses, but several years ago he lost his leg. His daughter brought him out to HSHI and we started to work with him. At first, he was very hesitant.”

After the amputation, Amanda says, Tom had to relearn balance and how to walk. HSHI installed a ramp for him in the barn to ensure he could walk up and mount the saddle.

“Tom became determined to ride,” Amanda says as tears fill her eyes. “It was so fun to see his progress.”

Finally, Tom invited his family and close friends, including the owners of Adaptive Performance Center, Karen Pearson and Mitch Crouse, to witness the progress he made. Before all of them, he loped his horse around the arena carrying the American flag. It was a moment worthy of celebration, made even more special when Tom died not long afterward.

“We miss him,” Amanda says. “It’s people like Tom that make this facility so special.”

As the need for equine therapy increases, HSHI is keeping up with public awareness. An information booth was set up at the

WHEN I’M WITH THE HORSES, THE WORLD STOPS, MY MIND AND HEART GO QUIET AND A PEACE COMES OVER ME. I CAN’T SAY ENOUGH ABOUT THE GOOD THAT HAS COME OUT OF BEING PART OF THE PROGRAM.
24 YVW MAGAZINE

Food Truck Battle in August at the Montana Army National Guard. An open house was held in September with Aaron Flint, host of Montana Talks Radio and an Afghanistan veteran serving as emcee. In October, HSHI took part in the Veteran Career Fair. With each event, the team at HSHI hopes to bring more awareness of their horse therapy program to other veterans and the community.

“There’s atta-boys out here,” Lorraine says of HSHI. “From the

horses, the people, and yourself. While life might not be OK, at least out here, you realize that you will be.” ✻

FOR MORE ON HORSES, SPIRIT, HEALING, you can visit horsesspirithealing.org, find them on Facebook by searching Horses Spirit Healing, or call (406) 245-4076.

allianceyc.org 1505 Ave D Billings 259-9666 935 Lake Elmo Dr Billings Heights 606-1170 Annual Open Enrollment Period for Medicare Prescription Drug Plans & Medicare Advantages Plans Oct. 15th to Dec. 7th We recommend you review your plan options annually to be sure you are getting the best coverage for the lowest cost in 2023. Call the Resource Center at 259-5212 to begin the review process.
25NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
Service Sacrificial Service Sacrificial Sacrificial Sacrificial Service Service 26 YVW MAGAZINE

KATIE LABEEF is a wife and mother with two full-time civilian careers.

She is the sales and service director of Alliance Management Group, a company with more than 300 rentals in several locations around Billings. With the completion of the Farmstead Apartments, a West End complex, that number will double. She’s also an agent with Full Circle Realty.

But that’s not all. Katie has another career that she’s passionate about. Five years ago, she joined the Montana Army National Guard. While training, she’s spent months away from her family and is required to spend one weekend a month and two weeks of every summer in training. Last year she received her commission as 2nd lieutenant. She’s an Ordnance Officer and as a part of those duties, makes sure all vehicles and weaponry are ready to go at a moment’s notice. She's a part of the 15% of women who are also officers in the Guard and she leads a platoon made up mostly of men.

“It’s an honor,” Katie says. “Being in the Guard has opened up

so many things for me. I take a lot of pride in what I do, but I wouldn’t be able to do it without the support of family.”

It was a winding road that brought her to the point of joining the Guard, but once Katie made the decision to enlist, she’s been grateful that she did.

“I knew it would be challenging in so many ways,” Katie says. “It’s a sacrifice, but it’s one that my family is willing to make.”

Family includes her husband, Kyle Trafton, and her daughter, 6-year-old Luna. Luna was just a toddler when Katie enlisted.

Katie and Kyle met at Montana State University, where they were both resident advisors. After marrying and leaving Bozeman, they spent two years at the University of Nebraska before deciding to be closer to Billings, which is home to Kyle.

Katie was born and raised in Illinois. She has a secondary education degree and had just finished her student teaching

IT’S AN HONOR. BEING IN THE GUARD HAS OPENED UP SO MANY THINGS FOR ME. I TAKE A LOT OF PRIDE IN WHAT I DO, BUT I WOULDN’T BE ABLE TO DO IT WITHOUT THE SUPPORT OF FAMILY.
— Katie LaBeef
27NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

when she took a position in outdoor leadership at a community college in Colorado. She also has a private pilot’s license. With a dream of wanting to be in the Air Force, while there, the ambitious young woman applied.

“It’s a stringent test to be accepted,” she says. “Twelve years ago, when I wanted to join, I was turned down before the testing even started. All because of a tattoo I have on my left shoulder and upper arm.”

Things have changed since those days. The military can’t discriminate against tattoos that can’t be seen. They still require face, neck and hands to be tattoo-free, but by then it was too late for Katie, who took a job in Bozeman and ultimately met the man she would

“I don’t regret that I didn’t get in. Life would look so different now,” she says. “I wouldn’t have Kyle or Luna, and I can’t imagine that.”

Still, the longing in her heart for military service never quite left her.

“I love what I do,” Katie says. “My work is very fulfilling, but there was a desire to do something more. To give back in a way that I can’t with my civilian jobs.”

With the support of her husband, family and friends, Katie joined the Guard, believing that if she didn’t try, she would regret it one day.

“I didn’t want to look back and wish I would have done it,” she says.

Serving in the National Guard doesn’t always mean that deployment will be in a foreign country. Often, the National Guard is deployed to assist with natural disasters around the country. This past summer they were called to help assist flood victims in Carbon County.

The weeklong trainings in the summer typically are field training. Recently, the Army overhauled its range qualifications and fitness test. The new qualifications consist of receiving 40 rounds of ammunition in four different mags. The

soldiers are expected to hit pop-up targets in four different shooting positions. Suited in heavy boots, fatigues and covered with guns and ammunition, the testing is as much physical as it is a test in accuracy. To stay in shape, Katie runs as often as her schedule will allow and has entered numerous races to keep her endurance up.

She’s also been trained in “preventive maintenance checks and services,” an exercise in which her platoon is responsible for maintaining and loading Army vehicles, equipment, supplies and soldiers to transport them in convoy fashion. The exercises include making load plans and loading munitions.

Though it hasn’t happened yet, there’s always the possibility that Katie will be called for a yearlong deployment. She and Kyle have talked about it extensively.

“It gives you a different mindset,” she says. “You don’t take things for granted. I try to make every day I can special. I work hard to make sure Luna feels safe, secure and loved, whether I’m here or not.”

Not long ago she took Luna to Build-A-Bear and let her pick out a bear and an outfit. She later recorded her voice so Luna could listen to it when she’s away.

“Technology has helped a lot,” she says. “We FaceTime when our family can’t be together for family and school events.”

The family has a full schedule. Along with his career with the Housing Authority, Kyle also coaches Billings Catholic Central High School’s boys’ soccer team.

“We’re busy for sure,” Katie says. “Kyle’s parents and brother step in and help us whenever they can. It truly does take a village.”

According to Katie, the benefits of being part of the Montana Army National Guard outweigh the sacrifice. The Guard pays for undergraduate degrees, and just recently, it became possible to receive tuition for master’s degrees. Katie plans to add that to her long list of accomplishments as soon as she’s able.

Katie says companies that hire people from

28 YVW MAGAZINE

the National Guard are getting well-trained employees.

“Sure, we have to be gone one weekend a month, and for two weeks in the summer and there’s a chance we’ll be called for deployment,” she says. “But we’ve been trained by the military. Leadership skills, logistic skills, training and schooling. We’re hard workers, resilient and efficient.”

Katie’s employers obviously see that in her and have always been flexible with her schedule, knowing they are helping her achieve her goals in the military.

“I hope to be an inspiration to my daughter and to other women and other moms out there,” she says. “If there’s something on your heart that you truly want to do, then go do it. It might be hard, but it’s worth it.” ✻

You might be covered. But are you protected?

Without the right kind of home insurance, your home isn’t really protected. PayneWest takes the time to understand your needs, so your plan works for you.

Get started at PayneWest.com/GetAQuote

29NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
YVW MAGAZINE30

FOR THIS CAJUN, FOOD IS A LABOR OF LOVE

EDITOR’S NOTE: In our July/August issue, we asked for reader nominations to help us choose a cover story for our Holiday Issue. After receiving upwards of 40 nominees, Ashley Robichaux, owner of Cajun Phatty’s, was chosen.

To make authentic Cajun cuisine, Ashley not only uses ingredients flown up from Louisiana, but taps into cherished family recipes that she’s put her own twist on over the years. Every flavor she shares is a labor of love.

ASHLEY ROBICHAUX

fondly remembers her years growing up in the heart of Cajun country. She loved when September rolled around and the Sugarcane Festival took over the streets of her hometown — New Iberia, Louisiana (the same city where Tabasco hot sauce is made). The fest paid homage to the tall stalks grown in the area that still sweeten the South Louisiana economy.

During the festival, Ashley recalls her relatives — dozens upon dozens of them — setting up camp on the family’s property, grabbing their boil pots and smoke pits to celebrate with an allout Cajun feast. Above all the flavorful seasonings and untold pounds of crawfish and shrimp, food meant community.

“Food is just a feeling. It’s a feeling of comfort,” Ashley says. “It brings everybody together, always.”

Community is exactly what Ashley sought to create when she opened Cajun Phatty’s 10 years ago, operating at first out of a tent at special events, then moving to a food truck before setting up at her current restaurant. She laughs as she tells you how the name came about — from her grandson, Koston. “When he was a baby, he had the fattest little legs.”

Saturday mornings are the only day Ashley whips up brunch specials. Her French toast, made with slices of her bread pudding, gets rave reviews and requires, as Ashley says, “a pair of fat pants” to properly enjoy. While the kitchen bustles, in the corner of the small but mighty restaurant, Dylan Petit strums on his guitar, serenading guests as Ashley peeks out of the kitchen.

“Flour is your jewelry,” her sister Phyllis Ditto tells Ashley with a laugh. Ashley brushes it off her Cajun Phatty’s T-shirt as her two sisters and niece nibble on the powdered-sugar-covered beignets at the center of the table. The fried and sugary dough is a New Orleans favorite.

“I’ve always said she’s my hero,” Phyllis adds with a more serious tone. “I’m the older sister and she’s my hero.”

Sixteen years ago, Ashley was given what she then considered a death sentence. After suffering from bouts of dizziness, slurred speech and distorted vision, a doctor confirmed she was in the advanced stages of multiple sclerosis.

“When I was first diagnosed, they told me that I would be in a wheelchair within a year,” Ashley says. “I had so many lesions on my brain.” At the time, she was a single mom of two. Her kids, son Gunnar and daughter Caemin, were her life. “When you first get diagnosed, you mourn because of what you don’t think will happen in your life. Then, one day I told myself, ‘I’m living to live.

MEET
31NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
YVW WINNER! YVW CHOOSE COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! COVER WINNER! COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! WINNER! COVER WINNER! COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! WINNER! COVER WINNER! OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! HOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! OUR COVER WINNER! COVER New phone numbers to better serve your needs Getting through to your doctor when you have a question or concern is essential to your health and wellbeing, which is why we have made improvements that positively impact your patient experience and give you quicker access to your care team. The following departments have updated their phone numbers, which can be used for scheduling appointments or contacting your care team: • Primary Care (Billings Downtown, West End & Heights) - 406-238-2900 • Billings Pediatrics - 406-238-5800 • Pediatric Specialty - 406-238-5770 • Billings SameDay Care - 406-238-2677 • Billings Cardiovascular Surgery - 406-238-2770 • John R. Burg Cardiac Center - 406-435-1445 Online scheduling is encouraged for Primary Care and Pediatric appointments. 406.652.4868 | @laviebillings laviebillings.com "Definitely go there. I felt comfortable the whole time I was there. I never felt pressured into anything as I was given explanations and information about my options." Free Pregnancy Tests | Ultrasounds | STI Testing 32 YVW MAGAZINE

At the time of her diagnosis, she was a successful restaurant consultant who helped open luxury properties all over the South. She’s rubbed elbows

celebrity chefs Don Pintabona of New York’s Tribeca Grill and Nick Mautone of Gramercy Tavern. On the brink of opening a new restaurant in Louisiana, Ashley was urged to quit her job and file for disability.

“I was devastated,” Ashley says. “I told my doctor, ‘If you make me do that, you are tying my hands for life.’”

While Ashley’s doctor couldn’t get her to slow down, working in the southern heat did. Higher temperatures and humidity did a number on her disease, causing flare-ups when the temperature rose.

That’s when Billings started to call Ashley’s name. Her sister, Phyllis, had called the city home for decades. Her sister, Marla, had recently made the move. Eventually, Ashley and her husband, Shane, along with her mom, Jerry, packed up their belongings and moved to Billings. It was a family reunion in a spot where the heat wasn’t unbearable all year long.

Leaving her career in the restaurant industry behind, Ashley knew she couldn’t stay idle for long. She started running a food business out of a tent at local events. That was how Cajun Phatty’s was born. For those first few years, she and her sister, Phyllis, along with a few close friends hustled to bring a little southern hospitality to Billings.

“I wish I wore a pedometer during those days. We were running,” Phyllis says today. “She wanted to come to Montana and teach these people how to eat Cajun food.”

After realizing there was more business than a modest tent could support, “I told my husband, I am going to buy a food truck.” Ashley says, “’He told me, have you lost your mind?’” She ended up buying a food truck sight unseen.

If you’re wondering how the trailer got its well-known graffiti-covered paint job, there’s a story behind it. Ashley was on a tour of the Tumbleweed Runaway Program when some graffiti art done by one of Tumbleweed’s clients caught her eye.

“One of the artists, his work was on the wall and I said, ‘Oh my, this is great! Do you think he would want to graffiti my trailer? It’s a paying job.’”

After the young man got arrested for illegal graffiti, a few more graffiti artists stepped up. “Four people painted the trailer. You can tell how one bit of work is a little different from the other,” Ashley says. “The kids were so proud of it. They tagged the bottom of the trailer and every time I would have an event downtown, they’d point to it to show their friends.”

WINNER! COVER OUR CHOOSE YVW WINNER! COVER OUR CHOOSE YVW WINNER! COVER OUR CHOOSE YVW WINNER! COVER OUR CHOOSE WINNER! COVER CHOOSE OUR CHOOSE WINNER!WINNER! COVER CHOOSE OUR CHOOSE WINNER!WINNER!WINNER! COVER CHOOSE OUR CHOOSE WINNER!WINNER! I am not living to die.’”
with
33NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

Over the years, Ashley thought of changing the graffiti out and brightening up the trailer. But she has not been able to bring herself to do it. The young man who sparked the idea in Ashley’s mind has since died.

“How can I take his work off the trailer when he was the reason why we started all of that to begin with?” she says with emotion.

When Cajun Phatty’s first rolled onto Billings streets, there were only a handful of food trucks on the scene. She’d camp out at Canyon Creek Brewery nightly, hiring people to serve as wait staff and loading her truck with three cooks to keep up with the crowd. Eventually, word about her flavor of cooking spread and it was wheels up for the Cajun Phatty’s food truck, hitting spots all over the Billings area.

“When we started this business, I said I am going to use this

business to bless as many people as I can,” Ashley says.

And bless people she has. Since launching her business in 2012, she estimates, she’s given away more than $350,000 in food to those in need. When the Lodgepole Complex Fire broke out in the summer of 2017, Ashley joined forces with a handful of food trucks to raise money for relief.

“In four hours, we raised $25,000,” Ashley says. Just weeks later, she raised $6,000 out of her truck to send back to Louisiana after it was ravaged by Hurricane Harvey. There have been countless efforts over the years. Most recently, she loaded up her food truck to help after floods devastated the Red Lodge, Fromberg and Bridger areas. She knew the heartbreak that comes with property loss of that kind.

“This one hit close to the heart because I lost a home to a hurricane,” she says.

She put out a Facebook message to her customers letting them know she’d be headed that way if they wanted to donate supplies. The response was overwhelming.

“When I got to the restaurant, I knew we had to close,” Ashley says. The restaurant was so packed with donations, her staff couldn’t move. “We closed the business and I started cooking big pots of spaghetti.” Two businesses donated moving trucks to help her get all the supplies from her restaurant to places in need. Ashley ended up parking her truck at the school in Fromberg. “There were tears. People were overwhelmed. I stayed there for three days and cooked breakfast, lunch and dinner for them.”

L TO R: MARLA LONG, ASHLEY ROBICHAUX, PHYLLIS DITTO & MORGAN DITTO-KIRKWOOD
ASHLEY'S
AUNT PEGGY
34 YVW MAGAZINE

Mary Beth Beaulieu and her husband, Ray, ran the Big Guy BBQ food truck during Ashley’s food truck years.

“She showed up at our truck one day, a competitor, and she was so warm and welcoming,” Mary Beth says, and the pair are still friends today. “Ashley is out to change the world. The amount she gives to the community is incredible. More than once I’ve heard her say, ‘We don’t have a lot to give, but I can feed people.’ That’s the kind of person she is.”

Five years ago, it became clear that Cajun Phatty’s business had outgrown its humble food truck. After dabbling briefly with a space at Rimrock Mall, a spot in the 2500 block of King Avenue West opened up five years ago and became a permanent home for Ashley’s cooking.

To understand Ashley’s love of food, all you have to do is ask her about her South Louisiana roots.

“If you’re a Cajun cook, there are two things you need to learn immediately,” she says. “You need to learn how to make a roux and how to make rice and gravy.” She remembers as a teen learning at the stove with her Aunt Peggy by her side. “I struggled to get my meat brown enough to make a rustic gravy. She would sit there and practice with me.”

She remembers her aunt fondly.

“She had a tragic life,” Ashley says, relating how an accident left one of her aunt’s hands paralyzed.

“She only had one functional hand and she could peel crawfish faster than anyone,” Phyllis says.

“Everyone loved Aunt Peggy and there was nothing she loved more than her family and food.”

Many believe Ashley got her giving spirit from her Aunt Peggy.

“I am like her in so many ways,” Ashley says reflectively. “She gave and she gave and just when you thought she gave enough, she gave again.”

Years ago, Ashley learned of the nonprofit community restaurant JBJ Soul Kitchen, owned by musician Jon Bon Jovi. There, diners eat and pay what they can. One of the underlying philosophies is “Happy are the hands that feed.” Ashley fell in love with the concept, and, after a lot of faith, she started her quarterly “Pay What You Can Afford-ward” days at Cajun Phatty’s. On those days, the menus come without prices.

“Those who can afford to pay more will pay more and those who can’t pay whatever they can. I don’t care if it is a penny,” Ashley

says. The only group of people who don’t pay a thing are veterans, not only for this event but on Veterans Day as well.

“Our veterans are awfully proud and they don’t really like it,” Ashley says. “They will ask, ‘Really, how much will it cost me?’ and I tell them, ‘Don’t take my blessings away. I can’t give you what you gave me, but I can cook for you.’” When they fight her, she will tell them, “I walk around free every day. That can’t happen if someone isn’t willing to fight for me to be free. Let me do this for you.”

Last March, Pay What You Can Affordward landed on what could have been the busiest day of Ashley’s year — Mardi Gras. Hundreds of customers lined up around the building.

“Some people were waiting two hours to eat. It was just insane,” Ashley says. “We had to shut down at 7:30 for dinner because we were out of food.” Still, she wouldn’t have had it any other way. “It’s just a feel-good day. Yeah, we lose money, but I get rewarded in other ways tenfold.”

If you ask her employees what makes Ashley’s business a success, they will tell you it’s because to her, it’s so much more than a business.

“She’s so hard working. She thinks about everyone else and makes

ASHLEY IS OUT TO CHANGE THE WORLD. THE AMOUNT SHE GIVES TO THE COMMUNITY IS INCREDIBLE. MORE THAN ONCE I’VE HEARD HER SAY, ‘WE DON’T HAVE A LOT TO GIVE, BUT I CAN FEED PEOPLE.’ THAT’S THE KIND OF PERSON SHE IS.
— Mary Beth Beaulieu
MARY BETH BEAULIEU AND ASHLEY
35NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

sure their needs are met,” employee Sarah Piret says. Her people are pretty much everyone who walks in her door. “She knows their names. She knows their kids’ names. She knows where they are from. She knows their family. It’s personal. It’s not just business for Ashley, it’s personal,” adds Missy Parker, whose worked at Cajun Phatty’s for about two years.

Everyone who picks up an apron in this restaurant becomes, as Ashley puts it, family. If an employee works hard, comes to work on time and follows what she calls her duty list, she will write a bonus check each month to help her workers with rent and gas.

“The way she takes care of people. That’s a genuine and authentic personality trait that not a lot of people work into their business,” says Ashley’s niece, Morgan Ditto-Kirkwood. “And, when she has an idea in her mind, move out of the way. She’s coming.”

Today, Cajun Phatty’s is bursting at the seams, beating previous years’ sales records left and right.

“Last year, I was so excited. We did 102,000 dishes out of the restaurant — a restaurant that seats 36 people,” Ashley says. “That’s where it blows me away.”

She’d expand her current restaurant if she could to house a larger kitchen. She’d love space to dabble in the new concept of creating a ghost kitchen. It’s a concept where you have a number of businesses under one roof, utilizing the same kitchen and staff, but the ghost kitchen’s items are solely for carry out. She has already dreamt up 12 different concepts that she could launch if only she had a larger kitchen. She looked at both the former Pier One and the old Golden Corral buildings and dreamt of having a number of businesses under one roof with patio dining during warm weather months, but the numbers didn’t pan out.

“I’ve tiptoed with everything we’ve done so far instead of just diving in,” Ashley says. “I’ve had five years to decide how this business is going to go. It needs to grow.”

For now, she’ll continue to serve up Louisiana crawfish, shrimp and alligator and let the other ideas continue to simmer.

“I’ve always been a big dreamer and I believe anything is possible,” she says. “It’s what keeps me going. It’s what keeps me healthy. My doctor says this is the best medicine for me.”

As her day wraps up, Ashley can often be seen hugging a customer as they get ready to head out the door. She’ll tell you it’s all a part of doing what she says she does best — dreaming, loving on people, and as she says, “Sometimes getting them fat!”

“If you’re my friend,” she says, “You’re my friend for life. That’s just the way it is.” ✻

VIST CAJUN PHATTY’S at 2564 King Ave. W. or check out their menu online at cajun-phattys.com.

CHOOSE YVW WINNER! COVER OUR CHOOSE YVW WINNER! COVER OUR COVERCHOOSE YVW CHOOSEWINNER! COVER WINNER!OUR CHOOSECOVER YVW CHOOSEWINNER! COVER WINNER!OUR COVERCHOOSE YVW CHOOSE YVWCOVER WINNER!OUR CHOOSECOVEROUR YVW CHOOSE YVWCOVER WINNER!OUR HOOSECOVER OURCHOOSE OURYVW CHOOSE YVWCOVER WINNER!OUR CHOOSECOVER
YVW MAGAZINE36
YVW CHOOSEOUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE WINNER!CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE COVER WINNER!CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER!CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER!WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! COVER WINNER!CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER!CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER!WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER!WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! COVER WINNER!CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER!CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER!YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER!WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! COVER WINNER!OUR COVER WINNER!CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER!YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER!WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! COVER WINNER!OUR COVER WINNER!CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER!YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER YVW CHOOSE OUR COVER WINNER! YVW CHOOSE WINNER! YVW CHOOSE OUR COVERWINNER! Congratulations ashley ashley ashley For being YVW’s first ever reader nominated cover woman! Thanks Thanks Thanks to our sponsors...to our sponsors...to our sponsors... for helping make this special!for helping make this special!for helping make this special! 37NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
the sweet smell of success
FRIENDSHIP LEADS TO GROWTH OF ROCK CREEK SOAPS written by LAURA BAILEY photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN
the sweet
smell of
the sweet
smell of success success
YVW MAGAZINE38

WHEN RACHAEL BROWER talks about scents, she has more to say than most people. She’s the founder of Rock Creek Soaps, based in Billings, and for every scent she can identify top notes, those that pop first, bottom notes, those that linger the longest, and middle notes that create complexity. Most scents call to mind a corresponding color.

Rachael’s sense of smell has developed over the years as she’s learned to blend scents to add to the unique line of handcrafted soaps she makes in a small but mighty workshop on Fourth Avenue North.

“Some scents are just amazing but don’t work well in the process,” Rachael says.

That process takes more than a month from start to finish, and at any given time, Rachael and her business partner, Jenn Dillabaugh, might have several test batches going while more than 1,000 bars of soap cure on racks in their immaculate drying room. They have names like Big Sky, Amber Waves, Starry Night, Glacier, Wanderer, Switchback Trail, and Caldera. The Home on the Range Collection includes Bison, Bear, Moose, Elk and Wolf.

“All of our soap names are inspired by the Rocky Mountain region,” Jenn says.

The ingredients in Rock Creek Soaps are all organic and sustainably sourced. The safflower oil they use is Montanagrown and processed. Creating all-natural sustainable soap is a commitment they’ve had from the beginning. Their scents are derived from essential oils and are free of phthalates, an endocrine disrupter frequently found in synthetic scents.

Rachael’s love of soapmaking started years ago when her husband bought her a soapmaking kit. It made only 17 bars, but she was so taken with the process that she soon had more soap than she

✴ENTERPRISING✴ ✴✴✴WOMAN✴✴✴
39NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

could ever use.

“I played with the idea of making soap as a business for a couple of years before I jumped on it,” Rachael says.

She made that leap in 2015. While Rock Creek Soaps started out as a home-based business, Rachael quickly outgrew her space and moved into a small workshop — a couple of renovated motel rooms — in the Heights. Jenn joined Rachael in 2017.

They’d been friends for years, and when Jenn learned about Rachael’s soapmaking business, she approached her and asked if she could work for her.

“For a minute I thought she might have thought I was joking but I wasn’t,” Jenn says.

“It didn’t take much to convince me,” Rachael adds. That arrangement quickly developed into a partnership as the two women set about building the business. They each bring unique strengths to the table, and the collaboration has been highly successful.

“It’s a unique relationship being both friends and business partners,” Rachael says. “It’s been really rewarding.”

Rachael, who has a bachelor’s degree in business administration, brings strategy and long-range planning to the table. Jenn adds her customer service and employee-relations skills. Together they collaborate on branding and marketing.

“She pushes the train forward and I’m good at coming along behind and making sure everything goes according to plan and is in line with our vision,” Jenn says.

40 YVW MAGAZINE
A 37-Year Billings Tradition of Trusted & Caring Dental Excellence 315 North 25th Street, Suite 101 Billings, MT 59101 1002 Shiloh Crossing Boulevard Billings, MT 59102 406-248-6177 TurleyDentalCare.com We Love Your Insurance We do whatever it takes to ensure you pay as little out of pocket as possible Two Locations with Great Staff to Serve All Your Dental Needs! Welcome Weekdays 7am–7pm & on Saturdays! 41NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

Soaps are their mainstay, but the Rock Creek Soaps line also includes lip balm, face oils, bath bombs, shower steamers, sugar scrubs, bath salts and, more recently, solid shampoo and conditioner bars. At any given time, they have about 18,000 bars of soap and other products on hand for distribution. All of it is made in their workshop and individually packaged by hand.

Rock Creek Soaps are stocked in retail locations in all 50 states, with a few locations in Canada. Rachael and Jenn sell wholesale through regional and national markets. It’s a model that works well for them because they enjoy talking with retailers about their products.

Rock Creek Soaps can also be found at local markets like the Moss Mansion SpringFest, YAM SummerFair, and the Holiday Food and Gift Festival at MetraPark. Their products are stocked year-round at Aspinwall, Liberty and Vine, and Frae Everyday Goods.

In 2018, Jenn and Rachael brought on their first employee, and like many smallbusiness owners, 2020 threw them into a nose-dive, but by the end of 2021, they had rebounded and then some. In fact, last year was the strongest year they have had to date. They brought on more employees (there are now eight counting Rachael and Jenn) and have grown as a team.

“I enjoy employing the people we do and providing them with a great working environment,” Jenn says. “We try to have a positive attitude and be super gracious and forgiving.”

“Hopefully they will feel like it’s just like a big family,” Rachael adds.

At any given time, they may also be opening their doors and arms to a woman from the HER Campaign, a local faith-based nonprofit. The mission of HER Campaign is to help survivors of human trafficking heal, grow and find their purpose. They do that by providing emergency shelter,

HAPPY HOLIDAYS from our family to yours!
Nick Cladis
Owner & Investment Advisor Representative
Brenda Meyer Client Administrator Tracy Hawbaker
AWMA®, CTFA Chief Operations
Officer
& Investment Advisor Representative Surgical Results 406-855-2422 • 1537 41ST ST W • BILLINGS, MT MYVITALITYMEDICALWELLNESS.COM ❯❯ Alleviate Wrinkles & Fine Lines ❯❯ Treat Acne & Surgical Scars ❯❯ Treat Stretch Marks ❯❯ Improve Skin Tone & Texture ❯❯ Tightened Skin Throughout Your Whole Body ❯❯ Minimal Downtime WITHOUT SURGERY MICRONEEDLING AND FRACTIONAL RADIOFREQUENCY RESURFACING
I ENJOY EMPLOYING THE PEOPLE WE DO AND PROVIDING THEM WITH A GREAT WORKING ENVIRONMENT. WE TRY TO HAVE A POSITIVE ATTITUDE AND BE SUPER GRACIOUS AND FORGIVING.
42 YVW MAGAZINE

residential care and transitional living support.

“We knew Britney and Sammy (founders of the HER Campaign) and wanted to do something that could benefit our community and make a difference,” Jenn says.

Rachael and Jenn provide the women with work experience. It helps them build a resume and gives them employable skills in a nurturing environment. The women can stay as long as they want or as long as their recovery program allows. Some have gone on to become permanent employees.

“It’s always been really energizing,” Jenn says. “We’ve always wanted a safe working environment where people feel encouraged and loved, so it has been a good fit for us.”

Rock Creek Soaps also includes a line of soaps stamped with a leaf, the HER Campaign logo, and a portion of the profits from the sale of those soaps goes to the Her Campaign.

While many people may be excited to level-up a hobby into a business, Rachael offers some advice.

“First, find a good business partner,” she says, sending a smile in Jenn’s direction. “And then, know your numbers. It’s all fun and games until you have to pay the bills. There’s a big difference between a hobby and a business, and you need to ask yourself, am I going to still love this when I have to do it every day?”

In business, Rachael and Jenn strive to be flexible, adaptable and willing to change. This year, their challenge has been in dealing with inflation and scarcity of ingredients. Still, they continue to grow.

“From day one we’ve been open to where God leads the business,” Jenn says. “So far that’s what it’s been. We trust Him with every step.” ✻

ROCK CREEK SOAPS ROCK CREEK SOAPS

has a retail space at the front of their workshop where shoppers can purchase handmade soaps and other spa products as well as accessories and gifts.

The store, located at 2319 Fourth Ave. N., is open Monday-Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

43NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

THE GIFT OF WARMTH

Comfort, beauty, warmth… give a thoughtful, timeless gift that inspires your senses. Luxury wool throws in unique color combinations as well as the classics! Only $149 for a 60”x80”throw. Life is about the art of giving! Pick yours up at Davidson Home Furnishings & Design , 2228 Grand Avenue, Billings, MT or call us at 406-656-9540.

LOOKING FOR A SPECIAL HOLIDAY GIFT?

Give her a piece of Montana from Berkman Custom . Custom Yogo sapphire pendants in sterling silver, white, yellow, or rose gold starting at $185 are sure to make her smile. Master goldsmith Shane Berkman has been creating custom jewelry for over 30 years. Everything is done in-house. For all your jewelery needs, come to Berkman Custom Jewelers "When Only The Best Will Do!”

GIVE THE GIFT OF BEAUTY

Montana Medical Aesthetics is celebrating again with their Beauty Bash 2022. You can go and enjoy food, fun and friends and stash away some savings for those on your holiday gift list! They'll have giveaways plus great specials on services and skincare that you won't want to miss! Did we mention great gift ideas? Join them for Beauty Bash on November 11th from 4 to 7:30 p.m. at the Hilton Garden Inn in Billings.

Holiday Gift Guide Holiday Gift Guide Holiday Gift Guide Holiday Gift Guide THE VINEYARD BASKET
YVW MAGAZINE44

MADE IN MONTANA CUTTING BOARDS AND CUTLERY STORAGE

Pair a Montana Block Company Butcher Board with their signature Magnetic Knife Stand for a chefquality prep station. Made in Billings Montana, these functional accessories add a touch of artistry to any kitchen. Montana Block 16" x 20" End Grain Butcher Block $250 and Magnetic Knife Stand (knives sold separately) $120. Get yours today at Zest. Located at 110 N 29th St, Billings or online at zestbillings.com.

ROYAL INITIAL CARD NECKLACE

Glam and timeless, the BRACHA Royal Initial Card Necklace is making a statement all on it’s own. It’s a personal touch that she can layer with her favorite gold jewelry for a super glam look. Price is $67. Get it at SOMETHINGchic2818 2nd Ave N, Billings and online at somethingchicclothing.com

ZOOMONTANA FAMILY MEMBERSHIP

A gift that keeps on giving the whole year. Your gift allows your loved ones to spend the whole year exploring ZooMontana’s beautiful park setting, wild animals, and so much more, all while supporting ZooMontana ! The membership includes many other benefits such as FREE or reduced admission to over 150 AZA accredited zoos and aquariums across the U.S, Canada and Mexico. Located at 2100 Shiloh Rd, Billings, MT 59106. Visit us online at www.zoomontana.org

EMBRACE THE HOLIDAY SEASON

Embrace the peaceful beauty of the gift giving season as we approach the Holidays. TOAD n WILLOW is setting the Christmas scene for you all to enjoy, with new collections that include a wide arrange of gift ideas and unique presents. Come visit and enjoy shopping local. Located at 118 N 29th St, Billings, MT. or call us at 294-6040.

Le Macaron’s true French macaron is made with the finest gluten-free ingredients, no preservatives and is about 80 calories each, with over 20 flavors available daily. Beyond the signature macarons, the menu includes gourmet chocolates, French gelato, classic French pastries, gourmet coffee and homemade candies. They also have an event room available for events, meetings and parties. Come check them out for all of your gift giving needs! 112 N Broadway, Billings, MT lemacaron-us.com/locations/ billings.

A BASKET FILLED WITH FLAVOR

Take your tastebuds for a ride with gourmet oils and Balsamic vinegars from Spiked Olive. They feature 19 flavored gourmet oils and 30 flavored Balsamic vinegars, Extra Virgin oil and more. Choose from imported olives from Spain; spices; Worcestershire sauce; handmade pasta and let locally-owned Spiked Olive wrap up a gift basket filled with flavor! Call 406-534-8888 or check out www.thespikedolivetaproom.com Gift baskets start at $10.00, the pictured gift basket is $120.00. Discount on refills for all size bottles.

VIVE LE MACARON!
45NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

GIVE A GIFT WITH VALUE

Embrace the holiday season with these special-edition holiday silvers. These high-quality one-ounce pieces come in 12 different Christmas and winterthemed designs, some with intricate handpainted details. It’s the perfect gift to stuff in a stocking or give as a token to help ring in the New Year. If you can’t decide, gift certificates are always available. Need a little extra holiday cash?

Ardies Coins, located at 1944 Grand Ave. is always in the market to buy and sell gold and silver, coins, bullion and jewelry.

CHRISTMAS IN THE AIR

Frasier Fir – it’s Gainan’s most popular holiday fragrance gift line. The aromatic snap of Siberian Fir needles, heartening cedarwood and earthy sandalwood combine to create a just-cut forest fragrance that evokes warmth and comfort. Frasier Fir is a tradition that feels right at home. Shop the collection featuring candles, lotions, soaps and more at Gainan’s Midtown Flowers located at 17th & Grand and at Gainans.com

LOOKING FOR THE PERFECT GIFT?

A wonderful treat for your teachers, friends or hostess gifts this holiday!

Aveda’s Iconic Aroma Trio -gift boxed limited edition in the Aveda aromas - Shampure, Rosemary Mint & Cherry Almond $26. Sanctuary Spa and Salon located at 1504 24th St West, Bilings, 406-6551701.

ETHAN ALLEN

Quality. Design. Artisanship. This lighting collection illuminates everything that Ethan Allen stands for. Visit Ethan Allen today at 3110 1st Ave North, Billings.

STAY WARM WITH A REMOTE START!

Remote Starters are the perfect gift for anyone wanting the convenience of warming up their vehicle at the touch of a button. MARS of Billings has several remote starter packages which can be installed in just about ANY vehicle. These remote starters are designed to seamlessly integrate with your vehicle to retain all of your vehicle’s factory functions and features. MARS is located at 2904 Gabel Road, Billings. Schedule by phone (406) 591-3888 or visit online at marsofbillings.com/ accessories/remote-starters

BEST. GIFT. 2022.

Neecee’s can personalize your gift giving with reversible birthstone necklaces and dainty gem earrings. Whichever is her birthday month… they’ve got you covered! And… they’ll wrap it for you. Brighton Earrings, $24; Necklace, $58. Neecee’s is in their new location at 1008 Shiloh Crossing Blvd, Suite 2.

46 YVW MAGAZINE

YOGO CRAZY!

Specializing in Yogo sapphires, Montana sapphires, colored gemstones and custom jewelry creation. dMyers is located at 327 S. 24th St. West, Billings. Call 406.656.8954 or visit online at dmeyersjeweler.com .

THE GIFT OF HISTORY

The Billings Depot was built in 1909 and has hosted presidents, movie stars and historical figures. Joining the 1909 Society makes you a contributing member to the historical preservation of the Depot campus and gives you VIP status at some of the coolest parties in town! New members also receive a welcome box full of fun gifts and benefits. Give the gift that gives back to your community. Visit BillingsDepot.org for a list of benefits and to join the club.

LITTLE NOTES!

These charmers are perfect for gift tags, short lists, lunch box messages, place cards, hostess gifts, and actual little notes to brighten anyone’s day. Lots of fun designs in store, plus all the goods for making beautiful things with yarn! $14.75 at the Yarn Bar , located at 2909 2nd Ave North in downtown Billings.

PERSONALIZED GUY GIFTS

Stonefly Studio has your outdoorsman covered: for the man cave (wall art), for the river (fly boxes and flasks), for the game room (cribbage boards and tables). Make it personal. Add his name, favorite river, artwork, and inscription. Have the photo of the big fish he caught engraved on his fly box. At Stonefly Studio they handcraft their wood products, design their own river maps, and do their own laser engraving. Located at 134 Regal Street. www.stoneflystudio.com.

NOSTALGIC HOLIDAYS

Junkyard 406 is a unique mix of antiques, gifts, lighting and furniture. Uncommon, Unique, Unexpected....Unusual. Located at 2135 Grand Avenue. Find them on Facebook @junkyard406.

GOOD THINGS COME TO THOSE WHOShop Local 47NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

YOU’LL FIND GREAT GIFTS

...at Al’s Bootery & Repair! Jewelry by Cool Water of Montana and Girl Ran Away With the Spoon, silk scarves from Wyoming Trader, and custom order exotic boots from Black Jack Boots and JW Boot Company. Motorcycle boots and gear by Milwaukee Leather, and western and work boots galore! They also have great accessories like gloves from Golden Stag and Geier Gloves, and work lights from Nebo. Lots more to choose from; come in and see! Visit them at 1820 1st Ave N, Billings.

JUST WHAT THEY WANTED

With a gift card to Northland Automotive, someone is sure to be very happy this holiday season! From protective floor liners, chrome and stainless accessories, running boards, toolboxes and grill guards, to truck bed covers, spray in bedliners, and window tinting, towing hitches and much much more! They sell & install all the of the trusted brands and with 140 years of combined industry knowledge. Northland Automotive, where they sell everything but the Truck. 1106 S 29th St W, 406-245-0595, www. northlandautomotive.com

MADE IN MONTANA!

Jelt belts are designed sustainably, with comfortable, premium elastic made from recycled plastic bottles. A grippy inner gel and no-show flat buckle makes these belts comfortable yet durable for outdoor activities, travel and everyday jeans. Jelt was created with the purpose of providing a product that everyone would need, while promoting and encouraging social change through charitable company efforts. Made in Montana in a way that empowers women, you can find a range of styles for men, women and kids. Get your today at jeltbelt.com and take 20% off when you shop with promo: YVW20

THE PERFECT FAMILY GIFT!

Madd Capp puzzles come 100 to 1,000 pieces. So many unique shapes and fun designs to choose from. $22-$28. The Joy of Living 1524 24th Street West 406294-1701

UNIQUE GIFTS

This fairly traded jewelry from Global Village is hand crafted using real butterfly wings. Part of a sustainability project in Peru’s Amazon, the Shipibo community raise butterflies to preserve their traditional way of life and prevent deforestation of their lands. No butterflies are killed; they are collected when their life naturally ends. The breeding of butterflies adds to the jungle’s biodiversity. The jewelry is completed in a small workshop located in Lima Peru. Visit Global Village today at 2815 2nd Ave N, Billings.

YVW MAGAZINE48

THE SEASON FOR QUILTING

Four Winds Quilting has been a Montana staple for over 14 years with all the supplies and delightful fabric quilters love plus fun extras! Give the gift of joining fabric clubs, classes, or a monthly fabric subscription. They are the “Home of the Quilters Pink Party Bag,” which includes everything needed to complete a beautiful seasonal project. They ship anywhere in the USA and gift certificates are available.

Four Winds Quilting, 1314 24th St. West, 406 - 694 -1025 or check out our website: www.4windsquilting.com

VUORI FOR CHRISTMAS

Once

of

at

1524

Billings, 406-294-1701.

PARTIES AND WORKSHOPS

A one stop entertainment spot where you can have your cake and decorate it too!! Birthday parties, team building, ladies night and sweet workshops are now offered at Velvet Cravings Studio. Located at 225 N Broadway, Billings. Call (406) 294-0308 or visit online at velvetcravings.com

Custom-made yogo sapphire and diamond bracelets by Montague’s Jewelers, starting at $5800.

Right: 14 Karat white gold Yogo Sapphire and Diamond alternating Tennis Bracelet - 2.10 carats of diamonds and 2.17 carats of Yogo Sapphires. Middle: 14 karat white gold Yogo Sapphire and Diamond Bracelet - 2.50 carats of Diamonds and .75 carats of Yogo Sapphires. Left Platinum Yogo Sapphire and Diamond Station Tennis Bracelet - 2.04 carats of Diamonds and 2.24 carats of Yogo Sapphires. Montague’s Jewelers, is located at 2810 2nd Ave N, Billings, MT 59101. Call them at 406-294-9370.

‘TIS
CUSTOM-MADE CHRISTMASSUPPORT BUSINESS Local
you put them onyou’ll never want to take them off! Deliciously soft and comfortable. Get them
The Joy
Living
24th Street West,
SHARE THAT LITTLE PIECE OF MONTANA Local artist Eloise Oviatt designs these "must have" ornaments with a love for Montana in mind. They are the perfect gift idea, a gift for you, or a perfect addition to your tree. Kiln fired and ceramic glazed, these ornaments will bring joy all year round. What could be better than a gift created by a local artist? Starting at $15. The Frame Hut & Gallery , located at 1430 Grand Ave., Billings, MT. NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022 49

BISTRO ENZO

A one-of-a-kind experience from a premier Billings eatery with the best holiday deal in town!

Starting on Black Friday through to New Year’s Eve, for every $50 spent in gift cards, receive a gift for yourself with a coupon for $10. Purchase a $100 gift card, get two $10 coupons! Bistro Enzo and owner Tyler Samson welcome you! 1502 Rehberg Lane, 406–651–0999, bistroenzo.com

REBUILD & REPLENISH

YOUR HAIR

Repair your hair from the inside out with Mondo Verde Natural Organic Products. Get it today at Park Place Styling Salon, 801 14th St W, 245-8188.

SPICE UP YOUR WARDROBE

Stop by The Base Camp and pick up this cute jacket from CharliB. The looped boucle texture makes it feel soft and light.$129.95. Pair it with the Charlene boot from Dansko. Stylish and comfortable, a great look for around town. $164.95. Available at The Base Camp, 1730 Grand Ave, Billings, MT.

ENJOY A BLUE CHRISTMAS

...with this gorgeous Hearts on Fire Yogo sapphire and diamond eclipse station necklace in 18ct white gold on an 18 inch adjustable chain from their aerial collection, available exclusively at Goldsmith Gallery Jewelers . Goldsmith Gallery Jewelers carries the largest selection of Yogo sapphire jewelry in the region in all styles & price points. And as always, receive complimentary gift wrap with all purchases! Goldsmith Gallery Jewelers in the Shops at Shiloh Crossing in Billings and at goldsmithgalleryjewelers.com

The

COZY FOR CHRISTMAS

red, black

into! Suede with

chestnut. $29.95.

West, Billings. 406-294-1701.

coziest mitten you will ever slip your hands
a soft fleece glove liner. Available in
&
The Joy of Living 1424 24th St
FOR THE HOLIDAYSShop Local 50 YVW MAGAZINE

IN EMERGENCIES, JUST SAY to St.V’s”

Take me

You’re not prepared when an emergency happens. But we are. St. Vincent Healthcare offers the highest level of quality emergency care in the region, with a level II trauma center, regional HELP flight program, pediatric trauma services, and extensive trauma surgery capabilities. So whether it’s a serious accident or a critical health event, if you’re having an emergency, don’t delay care. When the unthinkable happens, just say, “Take me to St. V’s.” Learn more at svh.org/trauma

When it comes to the unthinkable, we’ve thought of everything.

MAKING THE SEASON

CREATE A LITTLE WOW FACTOR IN YOUR HOME THIS HOLIDAY SEASON

S Sparkle parkle

LIGHT THE FIRE and cue up Nat King Cole. We’ve stepped into one Billings home that’s chock-full of inspiration to make your home sparkle this holiday.

Andrew Harmoning has been a part of setting up Christmas at Gainan’s Midtown Flowers for close to six years now. This isn’t his day job, but he’s got a knack for polishing up holiday spaces. We recently visited his home, which he decked out with help from designer Jim Gainan. It’s not only high on wow factor but rich in some of the best trends for Christmas 2022.

THE LAYERED TABLE

This dining table is ready to entertain and features a dash of traditional with a bold splash of color. Each dinner plate decked is out with a different design chosen which complements the hand painted St. Nicholas collection salad plates sitting on top. This collection also features a new addition, the individual butter bowl. Instead of passing around the butter dish, these small accent bowls allow you to keep those condiments close by.

Layers play into the design with not one but two table runners — a felt snowflake base with a coordinating Santa-themed topper. The flowers at the center in their bold red vases provide the perfect finishing touch.

“We added mini centerpieces set up in a table scape,” Jim says. “What I love about this is that you can place different flowers in each vase.” Here, using all white flowers, he paired contemporary calla lilies with a second vase of mums and baby’s breath and a third vase featuring ranunculus with traditional greenery. “Once your party is a wrap,” Jim says, “you can send these small centerpieces home with your guests.”

written by JULIE KOERBER photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN
YVW MAGAZINE52

Don’t let space in the corner of a room go to waste. Pencil trees with their long and lean stature are perfect here.

“This tree has a lot of space between each branch, “Jim says. “You can get a good, goopy look with this tree because you can just load it up. There are so many ornaments here that I bet someone could use half as many on a nine-foot tree and feel like that was enough.”

To make the tree harmonious with the nearby dining space, Andrew pulled all the colors from the dinnerware and table décor and used those same hues on the tree. Aside from 3,000 warm rice lights, there are baubles in all shapes and sizes. Some are simple while others are lavish with a velvety finish. The ornaments featuring woodland creatures add a bit of whimsy. And, iced branches and berries tucked throughout help give this tree a little more width.

Andrew says while it might seem daunting to think about purchasing new ornaments each year to deck out a space like this, he’s held onto his favorites and simply added a new bauble here and there.

“I’ve just built my Christmas collection each year,” Andrew says. “This is 10 years’ worth of collecting.”

AROUND THE CORNER
53NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

THE HOT CHOCOLATE CHARCUTERIE

Now that we’ve all learned how to say “charcuterie” and bought the boards that host these bite-sized snacking spreads, designers are decking them out with more than just meats and cheeses. Take a gander at this hot chocolate variety that provides all the right toppings for some holiday warmth.

“It’s obvious when you walk into a place and they’ve put something like this together that the host has put a lot of thought into entertaining,” Jim says. “That’s appreciated and noticed by guests now more than ever.”

This board comes complete with colored marshmallows, English toffee caramels, shaved coconut, white chocolate morsels, a variety of peppermint candies and whipped marshmallow crème.

“For adults, you can add a bottle of Peppermint Schnapps or Baileys Irish Cream,” Jim adds.

54 YVW MAGAZINE

THE

SIGNATURE DRINK Instead of a fully stocked bar, Jim suggests creating a signature drink to serve at your next holiday soiree. It is a surprise for guests and prevents you from restocking your entire bar. He grabbed some cranberry juice, 7 Up and redhot candies for his signature Cranberry Cinnamon Martini. USABLE DÉCOR When you’re decking your halls for the holidays, don’t forget those unexpected places like, perhaps, your kitchen. Here Andrew placed wine stems in a bold shade of red on a floating shelf for just the right amount of pop. CREATING CHRISTMAS MAGI C WITH GAINAN’S 17th Street West & Grand Avenue 406-245-6434 gainans.com A Gainan’s Exclusive FRASIER FIR by Thymes 406-245-4612 | 2810 2nd Ave N, Billings | bestmensstorebillings.com I jigger cinnamon vodka 1 t. fresh orange juice 1 jigger cranberry juice 2 jiggers of 7 Up 5 red-hot candies placed at the bottom of your martini glass Use orange peel and Bada Bing cherries for garnish MARTINI Cranberry Cinnamon NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022 55

BATHED IN BLANC

One of the newest trends is bathing holiday spaces in “blanc,” the French word for “white.”

“This tree is full of varying shades of white,” Andrew says. “I started mixing in metallics – the pinecones read more of a gold metallic, and the branches are more silver.” The result is a stunning tree full of texture and sparkle.

If you look closely, you’ll notice this tree features a tree within a tree. Andrew took a faux, pre-lit aspen tree and placed it inside a faux evergreen variety.

“This creates so much extra space to hang and feature ornaments,” Jim says. And that’s why you’ll notice the glass icicles dripping from the white branches and fluffy owls perched inside the evergreen boughs. Instead of a tree skirt, Andrew got creative and took two faux fur table runners and set them around the base of the tree.

“It’s a calming, peaceful trend,” Jim says. “I think it gives you a peaceful feeling to look at this if this is your unwinding space.”

AN ENTRY WITH IMPACT

Many of us have those collector items we’ve gathered over the years and wonder what to do with them each holiday season. Andrew has the answer. In his entryway, he’s added impact by decking out smaller, tabletop trees with his collection of nutcrackers. Instead of displaying these wooden soldiers boldly on a mantle and causing a chaotic feel, he’s wired them into the trees, adding small rice lights and, as a result, creating a fun focal point that’s rich with sentimental value.

56 YVW MAGAZINE

SETTING THE TONE

In a small living area off the master bedroom, Andrew once again played with harmonious hues.

“I’m telling the color story of my den,” he says. “The copper stag heads and pinecones pull in the color of the couch. I have the dark charcoal gray ornaments that pull in the wall color.” The result is a design that is oh so very easy on the eyes.

Since this is a smaller room, Andrew let us in on a little trick he used to have this large tree in such a cozy space. “I took the boughs in the back of the tree, held and zip tied them up so that I can push the tree closer to the wall,” he says. “The radius on that tree is seven feet. It would be out in the middle of the room had I not done that.”

With his holiday home decked out, Andrew’s collection is up for all to see. He says while he’s been helping set up displays on the side for a handful of years, Christmas has always been close to his heart.

“I remember decorating with my grandma when I was just 4 years old,” he says. “I’ve loved Christmas my whole life.” ✻

57NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

CELEBRATING CELEBRATING THE SEASONTHE SEASON CELEBRATING THE SEASON in Nature

USE THIS FESTIVE TIME FOR 25 DAYS OF ECO-FRIENDLY SURPRISES written by LESLIE TRIBBLE

YOU’VE HEARD ABOUT the Advent calendar — when children reach their little hands into a pocket-lined calendar celebrating the 25 days of Christmas. Sometimes there’s a treat tucked inside, other times, a dollar bill or small toy. What if you instead used this time to instill a love and respect for nature? Gather up your creativity and check out these 25 ways for adults and kids to make some meaningful memories that are also good for Mother Nature.

1. READ SOME GREAT BOOKS ABOUT WINTER.

“Over and Under the Snow,” by Kate Messner, “Snowflake Bentley,” by Jacqueline Briggs Martin, “The Story of Snow,” by Mark Cassino, “Winter is Here,” by Kevin Henkes, “Winter Dance,” by Marion Dane Bauer and “Goodbye Autumn, Hello Winter,” by Kenard Pal.

2. TAKE A WALK AROUND YOUR YARD OR A NEARBY PARK AND LOOK AT THE BEAUTY OF TREES AND SHRUBS IN WINTER.

3. MAKE A WINTER-WORTHY BIRD FEEDERS THANKS TO PINECONES YOU CAN PICK UP ON A WALK. Coat the layers between the cone with peanut butter, then roll them in bird seed. Once set, simply tie to a branch in your yard.

4. ONCE YOU’VE HUNG YOUR PINECONE FEEDER, START WATCHING!

Keep a list of birds and make sure you date each find. After a few years, you’ll be able to compare which species spent time near your home and when.

5. MAKE A PLAN TO PLANT NATIVE WILDFLOWERS AND SHRUBS WHEN THE WEATHER WARMS.

Local nurseries can offer suggestions. Do you want to attract honeybees? Or, maybe butterflies? December is the perfect time to create a planting plan.

6. ONCE A WEEK DURING DECEMBER, PLAN A LIGHTS-OUT PARTY.

Find out when sunset is and decide that from that time until bedtime, you’ll live like pioneers. No electricity, no phones, no games, no television. Plan a meal you don’t have to cook and use candles or solar lanterns to light the room.

7. WARM WINTER DAYS ARE PERFECT FOR GETTING OUTSIDE AND PICKING UP TRASH ALONG FENCE LINES IN PARKS OR ATHLETIC FIELDS. Exercise and litter patrol go hand in hand.

58 YVW MAGAZINE

11. HAVE A DO-IT-YOURSELF HOME ENERGY PARTY. Turn out the lights, get a candle and hold it next to your doors and windows to see where drafts might be coming in then use weather sealant to close gaps.

12. DECORATE A TREE WITH NATURAL MATERIALS. Gather sagebrush, rabbit brush, grasses and wildflower stalks to adorn a small Christmas tree in your house or yard. Add a little pop of color with painted pinecones.

Tis the Season for a HappySmile! Specializing in Orthodontics for children, teens and adults. • Complimentary Consultation • No Dental Referral Required • Dental Insurance Welcome & Accepted • Payment Plans Available Michelle K. Roberts, DMD Roberts Orthodontics, pllc 2132 Broadwater Ave, Suite B, Billings, MT 59102 www.MichelleRobertsOrtho.com /RobertsOrthodontics New Patients Welcome! CALL TODAY! 702-1939 Love YOUR Smile Specializing in Orthodontics for children, teens and adults. • Complimentary Consultation • No Dental Referral Required • Dental Insurance Welcome & Accepted • Payment Plans Available Michelle K. Roberts, DMD Roberts Orthodontics, pllc 2132 Broadwater Ave, Suite B, Billings, MT 59102 www.MichelleRobertsOrtho.com /RobertsOrthodontics New Patients Welcome! CALL TODAY! 702-1939 Love YOUR Smile Specializing in Orthodontics for children, teens and adults. Roberts Orthodontics, pllc 1211 24th St W, Ste 3, Billings (Former Gainans location) www.MichelleRobertsOrtho.com /RobertsOrthodontics CALL TODAY! 702-1939 New Patients Welcome! Michelle K. Roberts, DMD Open Saturdays (West End) 2 Convenient Locations! West End................. 3419 Central Ave Downtown............... 2908 2nd Ave N Celebrating 15 Years of Wellness! 651-5433 meierchiropractic.com BIRD HOUSE. Build a 10. Chickadees, finches, wrens and bluebirds readily use houses made by human friends. Purchase a pre-cut kit or find plans at your local library to cut and assemble your own. 8. MAKE YOUR OWN FIRE STARTERS. Use cardboard egg cartons, cut a length of string for a wick and pour in melted beeswax or paraffin. You can also add small twigs, or pieces of pinecones. 9. PLAN ONE DAY TO WALK INSTEAD OF DRIVE. 59NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

14. MAKE NATURAL DECORATIONS FOR INSIDE YOUR HOUSE.

Some small twigs of conifer, snips of sagebrush and a few cranberries look great in mason jars filled with water. You can even place floating candles on top.

15. CREATE A “GIVE BACK TO THE COMMUNITY” GIFT FROM YOUR FAMILY. Find a charity, organization or place you enjoy visiting and make a pledge to volunteer there starting in January.

16. TRY A “NO-TRASH” DAY. See how little trash your family can make in one day, including food scraps.

Reuse

found in

house and

gift.

Create some 13.
17.
materials
your
repurpose them into a thoughtful
Make sure at least one gift from everyone in your family is HOMEMADE 60 YVW MAGAZINE

Creating Creating Stunning Smiles

for Your Family Visit kovacsortho.com to schedule your FREE consultation & take the first step towards the beautiful smile you’ve been looking for! Trusted Specialist in Orthodontics for over 20 years -Latest Invisible Braces Technology -1000's of beautiful smiles created right here in the Billings area - Trusted Specialist in Orthodontics for over 20 years - Latest Invisible Braces Technology - 1000’s of beautiful smiles created right here in the Billings area 18. TAKE A HIKE. The day after a snowstorm is the best time to find animal tracks. Make drawings of what you find. Try to guess the animal and what it was doing. 19. GATHER UP YOUR NICE, NO-LONGER-USED WINTER CLOTHING TO GIVE AWAY. Reuse, repurpose. 20. TAKE A NIGHT WALK. Use solar lanterns or headlamps and head out after dark. 21. MAKE YOUR OWN BUG HOTEL. Simply Google bug hotel and hundreds of ideas will pop up on how to create one. It’s the perfect way to teach kids about nature’s biodiversity. 22. USE WINTER DAYS TO THINK AHEAD AND PLAN A CONTAINER VEGETABLE GARDEN. Carrots, lettuce, spinach and tomatoes will all grow in larger flower containers. Perfect to plant, grow, pick and eat! 23. START SEEDS INDOORS FOR SUMMER FLOWERS AND VEGETABLES. 24. LEARN TO SEW A BUTTON AND MEND A TEAR. 25. GIVE SOMEONE A HUG AND TELL THEM YOU LOVE THEM. Kindness makes the world a better place. ✻ LESLIE TRIBBLE, writer Leslie feels that every day is a chance to engage with nature. Her passion is connecting people to nature and opening their hearts to the beauty all around them. Leslie’s adventure dogs, Robbie and Milo, get her out exploring the sagebrush steppe every chance they get. 61NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
YVW MAGAZINE62

AUDREY MILLS was barely a toddler when her mother first took her to a performance of “The Nutcracker Ballet.” Since starting to dance at 3, she’s fantasized about one day taking center stage as “Clara,” the young girl who dances with the handsome prince through a moonlit night among a shower of snowflakes.

Clara is the plumb role for which most young ballerinas aspire, a role that motivates them to practice, practice, practice.

Last year, at the age of 13, Audrey’s fantasy came true. She laughs as she recalls how she found out she’d been chosen.

“I think I was watching football with my dad,” she says, smiling. “My mom called and she couldn’t even talk. She was so excited she had to text me to tell me.”

Auditions for “The Nutcracker” start in Billings in September, two months before rehearsals culminate in an extravagant performance produced by the Billings Symphony in conjunction with the San Diego Ballet and Billings’ School of Classical Ballet. Of the 90 local dancers who take part, only one or two — very occasionally three — are awarded the coveted role of Clara.

When selecting a “Clara,” Robin Sherertz Morgan, founding director of the San Diego Ballet, looks for a ballerina (or ballerinas) who exemplifies the best in classical ballet technique.

“She should be expressive with her movement quality and project facial emotions while she performs, be confident and pick up combinations quickly as given in audition,” she says.

Last fall, Audrey was blown away when she got the news she’d been selected.

“I was so honored that they’d even consider me for the role,” she says. “I couldn’t believe it for the first few days. It took awhile to sink in.”

Last year, three local dancers — Audrey, Emma Caseres and Alia Russell — made the cut. Each played the role in one of the three performances.

Betty Loos, co-director of the School of Classical Ballet, has been involved with the production since 1979. She still finds auditions stressful, even though she’s not in charge of casting.

YOUNG DANCERS TASTE JOY, DISAPPOINTMENT AS THEY STRIVE FOR THE COVETED ROLE written by LINDA HALSTEAD-ACHARYA photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN & CASEY PAGE AUDREY MILLS
Clara5 BECOMING 63NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

“I want all of the dancers to have the role they want, but we can only have so many Claras,” she says. “I see kids who are not quite there yet but then by the next year, they’re too tall.”

In fact, height is a key criterion for selecting a “Clara.” She must be taller than the other children in the party scene, smaller than the dancers who play the role of her parents and preferably not tower over the prince. She also needs to fit into the pre-made costumes. Productions vary but in Billings, they seek a ballerina between 4-foot-11 and 5-foot-2.

“For Clara, we want a pre-teen/teen look,” explains Robin. “It could be an older teen who is short or someone younger who fits the costume and ability requirements. If an aspiring ballerina is too small, she may have to wait until she grows taller. If she is too tall or ‘graduates’ from the role of Clara, we have many other advanced parts for them to dance.”

This year, Emma and Alia will play Clara again, while Audrey will not. The decision had nothing to do with Audrey’s abilities but the fact that she grew too tall.

“It’s been kind of difficult, but I was expecting not to get Clara because I had grown,” Audrey says with stoicism.

Like any dedicated athlete, most young ballerinas have experienced both joy and disappointment associated with their artistry.

“When they grow away from Clara, they go to harder parts,” says Julia Marble Blass, who co-directs the School of Classical Dance with Betty. “They have to look like company members. It’s a big deal.”

Occasionally, however, aspiring dancers don’t take the news so well. “There has been big-time drama before,” Julia says. “But last year, the girls were all so good to one another. They really helped one another.”

While Audrey prepares for new parts, Emma and Alia are thrilled to be Clara again — Emma for her fourth time (her first two at a small studio in California) and Alia, for her second. Emma was only 11 when she first danced as Clara — so young that she had little reason to understand the significance of being chosen.

“I was still the new kid,” she says. “It was kind of all of the sudden.”

She remembers being gripped by nerves as she stood backstage before her first performance. When one of the adult dancers sensed Emma’s distress, the woman started rubbing her shoulders to calm her.

NEWlocation! 406-534-1133 • 116 N 29TH ST • STE B (ACROSS FROM BROCKEL’S) www.thishouseofbooks.indielite.org I WAS SO HONORED THAT THEY’D EVEN CONSIDER ME FOR THE ROLE. I COULDN’T BELIEVE IT FOR THE FIRST FEW DAYS. IT TOOK AWHILE TO SINK IN. —
Audrey
Mills
EMMA, ALIA AND LORETTA PRACTICE THE ROLE OF CLARA
64 YVW MAGAZINE

“Then once I started acting, it became comfortable,” Emma says.

Growing up in California, Emma was inspired by the late Lois Ellyn, a former instructor of hers who had danced for the New York City Ballet. Even in her 90s, Lois “wasn’t afraid to get out of her chair and make corrections,” Emma says. And those minute corrections – sometimes adjusting Emma’s arms or head by a mere fraction of an inch – have honed Emma’s artistry.

Emma typically devotes 10 hours a week to formal dance classes, but she and her sisters spend considerably more time practicing on the dance floor installed in their basement.

As she prepares again for her role of Clara, she confesses to nursing her first dance-related injury — what she believes to be plantar fasciitis. Rather than quit practicing, she treats it with persistent icing and stretching.

“I rest and sit out when I need to but otherwise,” she says, “I just push through it.”

Alia Russell was 12 when she first landed the role of Clara.

“I was always too short until last year,” she says. “I remember Julia calling me like at 10 o’clock at night. My mom and I were reading a book. We were so excited.”

Alia started dance lessons at the age of 3, in part because

LORETTA QUEEN
TICKETS 406.256.6052 ALBERTABAIRTHEATER.ORG 2801 3RD AVE N • BILLINGS, MONTANA The Wailin’ Jennys NOVEMBER 1 • 7:30PM A Christmas Carol DECEMBER 20 & 21 • 7:30PM Dreamers: Magos Herrera & Brooklyn Rider JANUARY 22 • 7:30PM Jarabe Mexicano: Dia de los Muertos NOVEMBER 2 • 7:30PM Georgia On My Mind Celebrating the Music of Ray Charles DECEMBER 31 • 8:00PM Includes New Year’s Eve After Party JANUARY 1 • 3:00PM BILL& ANNE COLE BRINGING THE EXCITEMENT OF THE PERFORMING ARTS TO BIG SKY COUNTRY 65NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

she was always bubbling over with energy and dancing anyway. “I don’t remember a time before I was dancing,” she says, grinning.

For nearly a decade, her family made the drive from their home south of Custer, a 70-mile, one way trek to Billings, several times a week to get Alia to practice. Last year, they bought a house in Billings so she could dance six times a week, sometimes seven.

While Alia and Emma practice for this year’s starring role, another ballerina waits in the wings. Loretta Queen, now in her second year as Clara’s understudy, practices the choreography right alongside Emma and Alia.

“I kind of like being the understudy,” she says. “Even though I don’t get to perform, next year I may get the Clara part.”

To land the coveted role requires hours and hours of practice. For Loretta, that means classes in ballet, modern dance, pointe, stretch and strength. For any dedicated dancer, it means trading “normal” kid time for combinations, poses and rehearsals — anything to perfect technique. Yet, for those with the passion, it’s hardly a sacrifice.

I DON’T REMEMBER A TIME BEFORE I WAS DANCING.
— Alia Russell
66 YVW MAGAZINE

Alia wishes her friends really understood how hard she works at ballet. “They say they understand but they really don’t get it. They see me stretching and turning, but I want them to come to class and really see,” she says.

Although Audrey won’t be dancing as Clara this year, her childhood dream has morphed into a new one. “I always wanted to dance professionally in New York or maybe in San Diego,” she says. “I’m going to events outside Billings to get my name out there. And I’m working really, really hard. I’m just going to try my hardest.”

FESTIVITIES

On Saturday, Dec. 10, the Montana Dance Center School of Classical Ballet

host an immersive Nutcracker

where, in addition

there

be

LINDA HALSTEAD-ACHARYA, writer
A long-time resident of the Columbus area, Linda HalsteadAcharya enjoys spending time and learning from her rural neighbors. She has a degree in wildlife biology but for the past 25 years has pursued a career sharing other people's stories in print. She loves riding, writing and traveling. EXPERT SKINCARE YOUR FAMILY CAN TRUST ABD CERTIFIED IN Dermatology ♦ Dermatopathology and Micrographic Skin Cancer Surgery
Dr. Tanya Riddle
Dermatology: 294-9515 | Aesthetics: 294-9660 | 2294 Grant Rd |
Billings
|
www.billingsdermatology.com
Entrust your skin to the only triple-board certified dermatologist
in the
region the7 NUTCRACKER TREAT YOURSELF TO A PERFORMANCE Shows will be 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. on Saturday, Nov. 26 and 2 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27. For tickets, visit billingssymphony.org or albertabairtheater.org the7 NUTCRACKER TEA THE
CONTINUE
will
Tea Party
to performances, holiday sweets will
served and
will be festive crafts for young guests. For information, visit SCBBillings.com
✻ 67NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
LOOK WHAT WE FOUND
written by RACHEL JENNINGS photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN
IN EVERY ISSUE YVW MAGAZINE68

To start, I found the tree form in the Christmas section of a local craft store. You’ll want to take the form and cut off the top three inches, carefully using a box cutter or serrated knife. Deconstruct the faux greenery, creating single branches and set them aside in like groups. You’ll want to use several different types of stems to create a little interest. I chose stems with both long and short needles and looked for varying colors of green.

Hot glue two stems in the hole created when you cut the top off the tree form, add enough glue so that the stems are very secure. Make sure you use some stems that have a little height to them. From here, glue more stems around the base of the tree form, covering all sides. Varying the stems will give you good coverage and will add dimension.

Cut the beard material into a 4-inch square. From here, round out the edges so the material has a beard shape before gluing it about halfway up the tree form.

Now it’s time to take that bit of flannel (you can even use an old flannel shirt) and create the gnome’s hat. I measured the circumference of the tree form at the level of the beard, added an inch and cut to that measurement. I glued and folded the edge on top of the beard all the way around. The flannel should cover and hide the greenery that we glued into the top hole of the form. The stems underneath help give the hat structure. When you reach

the end of the flannel, you should have created a point to the hat. Embellish it by gluing a pompom on each side of the top of the hat. You’ll want to play around with the shape of your flannel. I liked adding a few wrinkles for a bit of charm. Now all that’s left is to use the wooden knob as the gnome’s nose and glue it in place.

This little guy was so quick and easy, with no sewing! The cost can be minimal if you recycle some of the materials. A holiday gnome is a great way to cheer up a corner, spruce up a bathroom or even put at the center of a table. Depending on what type of flannel you use, your gnome can even stick around all winter. Happy Holidays to your gnome, sweet gnome! ✻

RACHEL JENNINGS, writer

Rachel is a self described "Junker," who not only loves all things old, but LOVES the challenge of trying to make something new out of each find. While she is a Hair Stylist by day, in her off time you can often find her covered in paint, trying to repurpose something she's found.

HAVE YOU GOTTEN on the gnome craze hitting holiday décor? Well, instead of buying this bit of whimsy, why not put the hustle and bustle of the season aside and bring this quick homemade holiday gnome to life? This guy was so quick and easy and, better yet, most of the materials can be found around the house. Here’s How To Make It What you will need... • Beard material • ½ yard of flannel fabric • 2 pompoms • Several types of faux pine orfir greenery • Hot glue gun and glue sticks• Cardboard tree form • Round wooden knob CREATE A BIT OF HOLIDAY WHIMSY WITH THIS DIY CENTERPIECE Gnome Gnomesweet sweetGnome Gnome 69NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
70 YVW MAGAZINE

YOU COULD CALL KIM BOELTER the Fairy Goddess of Christmas. In the West End home she shares with Marvin, her husband of 31 years, you know the holidays are approaching when every room of their home is transformed by the magic of Christmas.

“When the kids were growing up, I wanted to maintain the magic,” she says with a twinkle in her eye.

So, right after the Halloween decorations come down, the Christmas décor starts to emerge. Even after Christmas, the sparkle sticks around since the holiday pieces are removed for a winter wonderland theme.

As a teen, Kim’s daughter Sam wasn’t overly enthusiastic about her mom’s creativity. Now, at 31, she’s adopted her mom’s passion for decorating. Each year, she’ll make the pilgrimage to Red Lodge to cut down a fresh pine tree, and she delights in decking out her own home.

“The apple doesn't fall far from the tree,” Kim says of her daughter as she establishes traditions for her toddler and husband. “My daughter is independent and can do her own thing, but my son, Zach, comes and helps decorate trees here.” Marvin also enjoys helping with the whole decorating process.

As the vice president of private banking for US Bank, Kim relishes

coming home from her desk job to turn on holiday music, setting the mood for her creativity. “I love all genres of singers,” she says, but she holds a fondness for the jazzy Nat King Cole and crooners Frank Sinatra, Bing Crosby and Andy Williams. Brenda Lee’s “Rockin’ Around the Christmas Tree” may play truest to Kim’s soul.

All three levels of her house are adorned with a Christmas flair, from the basement to the second floor. Eight larger trees stand throughout the home, distributed from the living room to the family room, dining room and kitchen. One is readied for Santa in the master bedroom, another in the upstairs hallway, and even one in the basement family room.

“On Christmas morning, we gather for a nice Christmas breakfast. The table is all decked out and we open presents all day,” Kim says.

Her desire to create makebelieve places came from her many visits to the happiest place on earth. “One of my biggest inspirations is Disney, the fantasy,” she says. “You go on rides and are transported to another place.”

Kim was 6 when she first visited Disneyland. Then, when she married Marvin in 1990, they went to Disney World for their

KIM BOELTER TRANSFORMS HER HOME WITH THE MAGIC OF CHRISTMAS
written by STELLA FONG photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN
DREAMS COME TRUE DREAMS COME TRUE DREAMS COME TRUE Kim Boelter • DECORATIONS TO MAKE • 71NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

honeymoon. They just recently returned to mark their 30 years of marriage.

Don’t bother trying to count the number of decorations Kim places around her home. They are too numerous. She’s meticulous as she places each item, creating comfortable scenes that give a nod to Mother Nature.

“I try to limit my accent colors to three,” Kim says. “Keeping in mind that your accent colors don’t have to be of the same hue, but as long as they are the same color, it will work. Repeating your colors and patterns with your accents will make it easy on the eye. In addition, try to layer your décor to create spaces that are eye-catching.”

Walking through the house, you see she loves an eye-catching pop of red in her décor. Her décor that dresses her space year-round is perfect for the transformation.

“I prefer my main furniture pieces to be neutral so that I can easily change the style or décor of the room with accent colors and décor. For example, I change out my floor rugs, throw pillows, throws and drapes to give a whole new look and feel to a room.”

She also plays with lighting to create just the right feeling when you step into the room. “Having mood lighting and accent lighting adds depth and interest to a room, providing a sense of coziness,” she says.

In days gone by, Martha Stewart used to spark Kim’s creativity. Today, it’s Pinterest that inspires. Once she gets a look in her head, she hits the town to curate it.

“I shop everywhere, primarily retail stores including TJ Max, At Home, Gainan’s, Hobby Lobby, Michaels, Joann’s, Real Deals, Target — anywhere I can find home décor.” She’s constantly scouting. “I love thrift stores and garage sales (you never know what treasures you find). Also, I love

YVW MAGAZINE72
406.259.3624 2814 2ND AVE N • BILLINGS CRICKETCLOTHINGCO.COM 73NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
YVW MAGAZINE74

Rescued and Reclaimed Vintage Market when it comes to the Metra.” And, to further keep the pocketbook in check, she’ll never miss an after-season sale.

“I like shopping after-season sales simply for the surprise of unpacking them next year and forgetting what I had purchased prior year,” she says.

When shopping, Kim depends on the photos she stores on her phone. She references the images to be sure what she’s purchasing fits with her other decorations. Once the season is over, they live in plastic tubs organized on shelving in the garage.

Once those tubs are full and stacked away, Kim Boelter, the Fairy Goddess of Christmas, will start counting the days all over again to when her home can come alive with holiday creativity. It makes her happy and fulfils her mantra — “Do what you love and let your imagination go!”

life

2818 2nd Ave N | Billings, MT 59101 | somethingchicclothing.com Shiloh Crossing • 406-2 94 2014 @neecees_mt facebook.com/neecees light up your
with fun fashion!
Roger Daniel Chris Mercier Tina Schock Bobbi Roberts
Medicare Questions? We Have Answers! 406.252.3411 | 2047 BROADWATER WWW.ROGERDANIELAGENCY.COM Do You Have Any Of These Questions? Call Today! ❍ Are coverages the same on every plan? ❍ What is the price difference between plans? ❍ What doctors and hospitals can I use on my plan? NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022 75

D’JO-LEE, BETTER KNOWN AS JO, is a typical 16-year-old girl. She loves her nails decked out with bling. She takes extra time with her hair and loves hanging out with her friends.

“We usually like hanging out in the park, or we’ll hang out at school, or I’ll go over to their house,” Jo says.

Her life, right now, revolves around high school. She’s a Skyview Falcon through and through and loves the high school. As a sophomore, she’s also a great student who favors her biology class, “Mostly because my biology teacher is really cool,” she says. She hopes to one day go into nursing and, as she talks about her future, you can tell compassion runs through her veins. “I want to go into nursing, just to know that I get to help people,” she says.

“She’s so smart,” says Danielle Metcalf, Jo’s social worker. And, even though she’s been in and out of foster care since birth, Danielle says Jo is one of the teens she knows will rise above her circumstances. “She can do it,” Danielle says. “She’s one of the ones who can do it.”

When it comes to a family, “Communication and respect are big things for me,” Jo says. “And honesty. I just want a family who will tell me if I’m doing something wrong or if something is going on.” When asked what she thought she’d bring to a family, she didn’t hesitate when she answered, “Courage.”

“Say that I have a foster sibling who is struggling, I could help them out because I’ve been there and know how to work through it,” Jo says.

She longs for the day when she can leave the group home and settle into the stability a family can provide.

“I think she could bring a lot to a family,” Danielle says. “She has a great sense of humor. She is so kind and helpful. She just needs some stability and the chance to be a regular teenager where she could get a job, go to dances, go to movies with her friends and learn to drive. I hope that for her.”

heart
A WITTY & CARING ADOPTABLE TEEN Meet D’Jo-Lee Meet D’Jo-Lee Meet D’Jo-Lee 76 YVW MAGAZINE
TO LEARN MORE ABOUT D’JO-LEE OR THE FOSTER-ADOPTION SYSTEM IN GENERAL, CALL DANIELLE METCALF AT 406-657-3120. While D’jo-Lee needs an adoptive home, many times the primary goal for children in the system is to have a temporary placement while social workers strive to reunify them with their biological family. Each family wanting to become a licensed foster-adoptive home must undergo 18 hours of mandatory training to learn what it takes to become a successful foster family. OUR HEART GALLERY FEATURE IS MADE POSSIBLE BY WENDY’S AND THE DAVE THOMAS FOUNDATION FOR ADOPTION. COMFORTERS & BLANKETS DRAPERIES & CURTAINS FESTIVE TABLE LINENS ST • BILLINGS • WETZELSCLEANERS.COM Holiday Finery... even the most treasured! Trust us with your Holiday Finery... 77NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

RIGHT NOW, more than 850 children are in foster care in Yellowstone County. Many of these children have been abandoned, neglected or abused. When children are placed in kinship foster care, the unexpected addition to a family can be expensive. We want to make sure these children, who often are removed from their homes with nothing but the clothes on their backs, have a Christmas.

To sponsor a child this holiday, simply purchase the items in need and label the unwrapped gift with the child's name and stocking number listed below.

1.Families that provide kinship foster care often need immediate assistance to maintain the children in the home. Gift cards for groceries, diapers, formula, or gas would be greatly appreciated to help families in crisis.

2.Lacey is a 13-year-old who needs size 9 pants, size 16 to 18 shirts and size 8 shoes. She would love a pair of Converse. She loves art supplies, rings, necklaces and “grungy-style” fashion, especially extralarge hooded sweatshirts. Sydney is 12 and needs size 9 pants, size 16-18 shirts, and size 8 shoes. She also loves Converse. Sydney would like makeup, lights for her room, new bedding, and bath things. Both the girls are also into ring lights for getting ready in the morning.

3.Robert is a 1-year-old boy who lives with his grandparents. He needs size 3T pants and shirts, and size 8 shoes. He’d love anything that involves trucks, cars, or dinosaurs, and would like some books as well.

4.Arthur is a 2-year-old boy who needs size 3T shirts and 2T pants and wears size 8 shoes. He loves motorcycles and trucks. Summer is a 2-year-old girl who wears 2T shirts and pants, and wears size 5 shoes. Summer likes dolls and would love to change their outfits.

5.Sam, who just turned 18, is in a supervised apartment working to be on his own. He wears a size large in shirts, size 30x34 pants and size 10 shoes. He could also use some size medium boxer underwear and some socks. He would like some kitchenware (plates, bowls, utensils) for his new apartment, and some movies to watch. His siblings, Delaney and Jared, are placed together in foster care. Delaney is 17 and

needs size small/medium shirts, size 4 or 5 pants, and size 7 ½-8 shoes. She would like make-up, jewelry and some squishmallow plushies for Christmas. Jared is 13 and needs size large shirts, size 36x32 pants, and size 11-12 shoes. He is really into cars, video games for his Xbox, craft supplies, Minecraft and Roblox.

6.Charlie is a 10-month-old in need of size 18-month clothing. He wears a size 6 shoes. It would be good for Charlie to have some developmental toys or books suitable for a 1-year-old.

7.Sibling group of 3: Suzie is an 8-month-old baby in need of size 12-month clothing, and it would be good for her to have some developmental toys. Daniel is a 12-year-old boy who needs youth size 12 pants and youth large/extra-large shirts. He wears size 9 shoes. Daniel is really into drawing and he likes headphones. Christopher is a 6-year-old boy who needs size 8 pants, plus youth medium or large shirts, and size 2 shoes. Christopher is also into drawing and loves remote or toy cars. Both brothers also like nerf guns.

8.Sibling group of 3: 13-year-old Andrew needs youth extra-large or adult small shirts, as well as large or extra-large shorts or sweats. Andrew is very athletic and would like a gift card to Scheel’s. Brooklyn, 11, wears women’s extra small sizes in shirts and pants, and size 7 shoes. She would like an over-sized Nike sweatshirt for Christmas. Delilah, 17, would like makeup and any books on baking cakes/cupcakes as she wants to open her own bakery.

9.Sibling group of 4: Tom and Nathan are 16-yearold twins. Tom needs size 40x34 pants and size 3XL shirts. Tom would like some gaming headphones. He also likes anime and prefers sweatpants. Nathan needs size 36x34 pants and size XL shirts. Nathan loves gaming and sports. He also loves cars and would like a nice blanket for Christmas. Carly, 15, needs size 13 pants, size XL shirts, and wears size 9 shoes. Carly is into make-up, hair accessories, jewelry and purses, and would like a nice journal or diary. Anna, 12, needs size 11 pants, XL shirts, and size 8½ shoes. Anna is into purses, hair accessories, jewelry and make-up, and would also like a nice journal.

10.Abby, 16, needs women’s extra-small/small shirts, size 2 pants, and size 6½ shoes. She’s into make-

EMPTY STOCKINGS 2022 EMPTY STOCKINGS 2022 A BENEFIT FOR FOSTER CHILDREN WITH CHILD & FAMILY SERVICES 78 YVW MAGAZINE

up and would love a gift card to Ulta. She would also like a ring light on a tripod because she likes to make TikTok videos.

11.Jackson, 12, needs men’s size large shirts, size 36x30 pants, and size large sweatpants. He’d like some Rainbow High fashion dolls for Christmas.

Drop Off Locations

12.

Sibling group of 2: Samantha, 17, needs women’s size small or size 4 shirts, size small or size 4 dresses, size 3-4 pants, and size 8½ shoes. She loves watercolor painting, art, music and goth/punk things. Luke, 15, needs men’s medium shirts, size 32x32 pants, and size 11½ extra-wide shoes. Luke is really into tools (like wood working and cars) and he likes classic cars.

13.

Billy is a 1-year-old who loves all toys that make noise and music. He is in 18- to 24-month clothing and could use a pair of boots, some socks and pajamas. Any cold-weather clothes would be much appreciated.

14.

Jamie, 7, loves anything with unicorns! She loves to craft, so jewelry-making kits or diamond art kits would be a great gift. She wears a size 7/8 in clothing and size 2 shoes. Her sister Josie, 5, loves everything that has to do with mermaids! She wants a Mermaid Star Projector light for a night light since she doesn’t like the dark. She also loves to dress up in princess clothes. Josie wears a size 5 clothes and size 10 shoes. The youngest is Julie, 3, who also loves anything mermaid. She really loves baby dolls that look like real babies, Barbie dolls and anything that can be played with while in the bathtub. Julie wears size 3 clothing and size 7 shoes.

20.Gail is a 1-year-old and her parents are struggling to provide seasonal appropriate clothing for her. She needs clothing in a size 18-month. She could also use socks, a coat and a hat.

15.

Tony, 4, loves all things dinosaur. He could use some snow pants, size 4T, and some cold weather clothes aswell. He is also into superheroes, especially Batman and Spiderman. His little brother, Kevin, 3, is a 3T in clothing and could also use snow pants and cold weather clothing. Like his brother, he is into superheroes, his very favorite being Spiderman.

16.Dustin is 5 months old. He is in size 12-month clothes and could use a new winter coat and items for the cold winter months. He’ll be teething soon so anything chewable would be great, along with interactive books. Kelly, 3, and can’t get enough of Blippi and the Teletubbies. She is a size 4T. She could really use some snow boots, size 9.

17.Sally is a 1-year-old but is already wearing a 3T or 4T in clothing. She could really use some new fun pants, preferably with elastic waistbands and leg openings. She is a real girly girl who loves to dress up. Hats, scarves or purses would be a fun gift for her. She also loves putting together Lego Bricks/Duplos. Her brother Dillon is only 5 months. He is starting to teeth so anything chewable would be great. He could also use some warm weather clothes and pajamas, size 12 months. He could also use some books, preferably ones that are interactive or have teething elements. He also loves to play with pop-it fidget toys.

18.One foster mom is currently caring for five children, all under the age of 5. The first is a 4-year-old boy whose favorite things are monster trucks and motorcycles. He wears 5T clothes and size 12 in youth shoes. The 2-year-old girl loves to act like a princess, and loves babies or anything pink. She wears 3T in clothes and size 7 youth shoes. The 2-year-old boy loves cars, trucks, and any kind of ball. He wears a 2-3T in clothes and wears a size 7 in youth shoes. The 1-year-old girl loves anything that lights up and plays music. She wears 12- to 18-month clothing. Lastly, the 4-month-old boy wears 9- to 12-month clothing. He’d love some teething toys. Because this mom cares for such an active home, social workers would love to give her a gift card for a nice dinner or a good massage.

19.Sibling group of 3: The 17-year-old boy likes video games and anything that will get him outside. He wears a men’s medium in clothes. The 3-year-old girl wears 3T clothing and size 8 toddler shoes. She loves doll houses or anything with princesses. She loves to play outside with chalk. A second 3-year-old girl wears a size 2T in clothing and a 7 in toddler shoes. She loves doll houses. The baby boy is 1-year-old. He wears a size 18T and loves cars and trucks. Right now, the family lives

21.A set of very active brothers, ages 7 and 10, would love a scooter or skateboard for Christmas. They also enjoy anything to do with wrestling or Marvel characters.

22.Eight-year-old Brendan loves fishing, karate and shopping at Scheels. He wears a youth XL and size 6 in shoes.

23.Alyvia, 7, loves cats, unicorns and squishmallows. She wears a youth size 10/12 and size 4 shoes.

24.Melanie is a sassy 16-year-old girl who loves anything purple or zebra. She needs new tennis shoes and boots in a size 11 women’s. She loves drawing, coloring, painting and reading anime. She also needs clothes in a women’s size large.

25.A single dad is doing a great job but could use a little help through the holidays. His daughter Tanya, 18, who will be starting college in the spring, would love an XL twin comforter with sheets along with some new pillows for her dorm room. She is open to anything a college student would need. Brenda is a shy 15-year-old who would love art supplies and a fuzzy blanket. She would also love gift cards to fast food restaurants so she can go get lunch with her friends. She would also love gift cards to her favorite stores —Target and Rue 21. Lori is a spunky 7-year-old girl who loves anything with rainbows. She loves to draw, color and also loves fuzzy blankets and pillows. Dad could use some gift cards to help with gas. He drives to many medical appointments both in and out of state. Gift cards to a restaurant would be nice for this family to have some bonding time. ✻

Feel free to drop off gifts to Child & Family Services at the address below or at one of the generous businesses that are helping provide additional places to drop off and donate gifts.CHILD & SERVICESFAMILY2525 Fourth Ave. N., Ste 309Billings IRIS SALON1579 Mullowney Ln.Billings CENTURY 21HOMETOWN BROKERS1605 Shiloh Rd.Billings BOOTHILL INN242 E.Airport Rd.Billings
For Additional Empty Stockings Visit: yellowstonevalleywoman.com/stockings-2022 This list will be updated continuously throughout the season to make sure new children in the foster care system aren’t forgotten this Christmas. 79NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

BECOMING MRS. CLAUS BECOMING MRS. CLAUS

I DON’T KNOW HOW a person qualifies to play Mrs. Claus. Is it age, round cheeks or the proclivity to bake cookies? Is there a test, perhaps a course on North Pole lore, heroes and legends? Does it come with a fur-lined dress and the recipe for magic reindeer oats? There are schools for Mr. Claus impersonators, along with beard experts and suits that cost up to $3,000. I feel like Mrs. Claus deserves the same treatment, because I stumbled into the role, and each year, when I don my homemade dress, I feel undeserving of the gifts this role has brought into my life.

It began, I’m embarrassed to admit, as a commercial ploy to get more children into our ceramic studio during the holiday season. I sewed the dress, and my daughter Liz Enslow created the marketing and the event. Hot chocolate, North Pole breakfast cookies (that looked quite similar to my oatmeal cookies with some cranberries tossed in) and the opportunity to paint gifts for parents and siblings, while listening to Mrs. C wax poetic about all things Christmas. That was the plan.

I brushed up on the reindeer names, my son-in-law served as Nick the mischievous elf, and we sang a few happy carols just to fill the time. It was almost a hit. There were children, and we had a great time, but sometimes, when you take something as innocent as Mrs. Claus and turn it into a commercial endeavor, a bit of the flavor is lost. The sparkle is fake and the smiles are staged. I certainly didn’t feel qualified to represent this tradition, but I gave it my cheerful best, which is probably why I was asked to accompany a professional Mr. Claus to a few events.

I learned in no time at all that Mrs. C was only there for information. Children pulled on my skirt and asked when Santa was arriving and whether he really ate all of their cookies. They wanted to know what reindeer really ate and if I knew Buddy the Elf. I can be a bit of a stage hog and was wondering if singing “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” would get me more fans when I heard a child tell Santa all he

wanted for Christmas was for his cancer to go away. Another one asked if Santa could please bring grandma back from heaven. Well. Ahem. Uh. Attitude adjusted. Santa’s job, while glamorous, certainly came with pain and suffering I wasn’t prepared to handle. I smoothed my skirt and smiled at the babies.

During the first few years of this role, I found that Mrs. Claus may not handle the big requests, but she has to handle the fleet of finger, quick to hug, and sniff the vanilla behind her ears, men. Men LOVE Mrs. Claus. And by love, I mean follow her around, request too many hugs, and ask questions about special deliveries. Now, I would understand this if I were playing a sexy Mrs. Claus with exposed cleavage, and thighs wrapped in fishnet but I am not that kind of Mrs. C, which proves sexy is in the eye of the beholder, I guess. After one particularly harrowing event, that left pipe tabaco on my white muslin collar, I considered hanging up the dress and spreading cheer under my regular moniker, “The Monday

YVW COLUMIST
IN EVERY ISSUE
A MAGICAL NIGHT FULL OF GIFTS
80 YVW MAGAZINE

Video Lady on Facebook.”

But, because the season is made of magic and I have a proclivity to say “yes” for other people, the Brown and Pierce families — who live smack dab in the middle of the Christmas wonderland, Arches Lane, near the 38th and Central Avenue — asked if my husband Paul would play Santa on Christmas Eve. He said no. I said think about it. He said no again. I said come on, it’ll be fun, just try it once. Because he likes to do what I ask him to do (this is probably not true) he donned the suit, stood in the road and handed out 2,000 candy canes on Christmas Eve. Mrs. Claus was right by his side, at his stipulation, not by her own doing.

About 20 candy canes in, his heart grew three sizes and the suit began to shimmer with joy as he petted each pup, winked at old ladies and ever so carefully spoke to each and every child, especially those who were scared of the booming voice and acrylic whiskers. As Mrs. Claus, I became his helper, which is the role I am supposed to have and we both laughed, him less than me, when one man, who had probably enjoyed more than one spiked eggnog, insisted he’d get his family’s candy canes from Mrs. Claus.

Becoming Mrs. Claus was not a dream of mine, and while I would like to say it was a complete accident, I believe in God winks and divine inspiration. I believe in callings, and gifts from above, because that is what this has become. Our small family has been wrapped in the warmth of the season while standing in the road giving out the Brown- and Pierce-purchased candy canes. My grandson is an elf, and because a tragic fall led to a chest full of titanium ribs, Santa has a backup, our son-in-law Nick, who has a huge booming voice and a real beard, not yet full of snow.

I tell you this story to remind you that while this season is full of tasks, while it is chock-full of commercialism and to-do lists that are overwhelmingly long, it is also precious. It is as precious as a child who no longer believes in Santa but can’t quite fathom how he knew his name, and it is in the woman with a terminal illness, who drove through the gaily lit houses for what she knew

would be the last time and stopped to hug Mrs. Claus because she wanted to believe in kindness and candy canes.

It is in parents whispering to their children and old couples who hold hands as they marvel at the lights. It is in tears frozen on our cheeks as we experience moments and make memories for people who won’t have gifts under trees and it is in the stillness of the night when a promise of love greater than we can even imagine takes hold. ✻

Karen Grosz is a local Team and Leadership Development coach and motivational speaker. She owns Canvas Creek Team Building, is the author of “What’s Next” and “Quiet Leadership” and founding voice of the Facebook group “I’ll Help”- Billings. You can find more from Karen at karengrosz.life.

Quietly.

QUIET LEADERSHIP

as

accomplish more,
will help you discover your capacity to operate
a Quiet Leader for yourself, your team and your community. www.quietleadership.group Order your copy today on Amazon! GOLD, SILVER, COINS, CURRENCY Trusted by the Northwest (406) 702-1516 | 2450 KING AVE W | BILLINGS BILLINGS | HELENA | MISSOULA | IDAHO FALLS WWW.GRIZZLYGOLDANDSILVER.COM
81NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

Bibbidi

Bobbidi

HOW MY LOVE OF PUMPKIN WAS SPARKED AS A CHILD

AS A CHILD, one of my favorite movies from the treasure chest of Disney animated features was “Cinderella.” I loved how the mice and the birds worked feverishly to create Cinderella’s lovely pink gown to wear to the ball. I booed the evil stepsisters who destroyed the dress to keep Cinderella at home, and cheered when the Fairy Godmother saved the day, or rather, night.

With a wave of her wand and the magic words “bibbidi bobbidi boo,” she turned animals into coachmen and footmen, dressed Cinderella in a beautiful blue ballgown and transformed an ordinary pumpkin into an elegant coach.

To me, she is Pumpkin Spice Fairy Godmother. She might have sparked us to think about this gourd in a whole new way. According to NielsenIQ, pumpkin-themed products signal the arrival of fall, and they are still a big hit with consumers. Last year, pumpkin spice products rang up sales of more than $231 million.

In homage to the Pumpkin Spice Fairy Godmother, I offer a few favorites from my myriad of pumpkin recipes: Savory Pumpkin Soup, Pumpkin Custard, Pumpkin Nut Torte and how to turn a pie (sugar) pumpkin into puree. It’s what she would expect of me.

Bibbidi Bobbidi Boo.

KAY ERICKSON, writer

Kay has spent her professional career in public relations and broadcast news, currently at Yellowstone Public Radio. Her journalism degree is from Northern Illinois University. Her passions include her family, sports and food. Her mom and an aunt taught her the finer points of cooking and instilled a love of good food and family mealtime.

TASTE OF THE VALLEY
IN EVERY ISSUE
Enjoy!
BibbidiBobbidi
Boo! Boo! 82 YVW MAGAZINE

savory pumpkin soup

1 medium yellow onion, finely chopped

2 garlic cloves, minced

2 T. unsalted butter

2 c. pumpkin puree

1 c. chicken stock

½ t. kosher salt

¼ t. freshly ground black pepper

¼ t. dried thyme

1/8 t. nutmeg

¾ c. full fat Greek yogurt

½ c. grated cheddar cheese

1 T. parsley (if desired)

DIRECTIONS: Melt butter in a large saucepan over medium heat. Sauté onion until translucent. Add garlic and sauté for 1 minute. Add pumpkin puree, chicken stock, salt, pepper and thyme and stir until blended. Bring to a simmer and simmer for 15 minutes. Slowly whisk in yogurt and nutmeg, and simmer for an additional 5 minutes.

Remove from heat. Use an immersion blender to blend soup to a creamy and smooth consistency. Return to heat and add cheese, heating until cheese has melted. Serve and garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.

pumpkin custard

1 c. pumpkin puree

1½ c. whole milk

¼ t. salt

1/8 t. allspice

¼ t. nutmeg

¾ c. sugar

3 eggs lightly beaten

¼ t. nutmeg

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Spray six ramekins or custard cups with cooking spray. In a large microwavable bowl, heat the milk in 15- or 30-second increments, stirring after each cycle until the milk in the center of the bowl reaches 180 degrees. Cool until warm to the touch. Set aside.

Combine the pumpkin, sugar, salt, allspice, nutmeg and eggs in large bowl and blend with an electric mixer until combined. Slowly add the warm milk until completely incorporated. Pour into the prepared cups. Place in baking pan that can hold the six ramekins comfortably. Pour enough hot water in the pan so the water comes up halfway on the cups. Carefully set in the oven and bake for 30 minutes until set. Cool. Serve with whipped cream.

83NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

pumpkin nut torte

1 c. packed light brown sugar

½ c. unsalted butter, softened

3 eggs

1½ c. crushed graham crackers

¼ t. cinnamon + ½ tsp cinnamon

1 t. baking powder

1 c. shredded coconut

1 c. chopped walnuts

½ c. pumpkin puree

1 c. whipping cream

¾ t. agave syrup

¼ t. ground nutmeg

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Grease and flour and 9-inch square baking pan. Cream the brown sugar and butter. Beat in the eggs one at a time. Stir in the crumbs, ¼ teaspoon of cinnamon and baking powder. Stir in the coconut, nuts and pumpkin. Spread in the prepared 9-inch square pan. Bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Cool completely. Whip the cream with the agave syrup, ½ teaspoon of cinnamon and nutmeg. Cut into six pieces. Serve topped with spiced whipping cream.

homemade pumpkin puree

1 pie pumpkin

DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with non-stick aluminum foil. Wash the pie pumpkin. With a sharp knife cut the pumpkin in half and scrape out the seeds. (Put the seeds in a bowl of water if you plan to roast the seeds.)

Place each half, cut side down, on the lined baking sheet. Sprinkle a few tablespoons of water around the pumpkin and bake for 1 hour or until a fork easily pierces the outer shell. Remove the pan from the oven and cool. Scrape the flesh from the outer shell and puree in a food processor.

NOTE: I freeze the puree in 2 cups increments in Ziploc freezer bags.

TIP: You can also bake uncut carving pumpkins. Follow the same steps but the baking time will take longer depending on the size of your pumpkin. I found if you lightly cover the larger pumpkin in aluminum foil it will shorten the baking time.

84 YVW MAGAZINE
Cookware Kitchen Gadgets Specialty Foods Cooking Classes Knife Sharpening TAKE YOUR TO THE NEXT LEVEL 85NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

Red

for the holidays2

TABLE RED

with

BRING COLOR TO THE SEASON

FONG, writer

the

that

will make

of the year or fresh

are native to North America.

a tartness to a dish, and

divides her time between Billings and Seattle and is the author of two Billings-centric books, Historic Restaurants of Billings and Billings Food. Her writings have appeared in Big Sky Journal, Western Art and Architecture, the Washington Post as well as online at lastbestplates.com.

cranberry chutney

Red STELLA
Stella
PAINT YOUR
this holiday season, bringing a little flavor and color to your holiday feast
cranberries. These berries
grow on evergreen shrubs
You can purchase them frozen most
during
holidays. Their flavor delivers
their color
merry your holiday menu. ✻ CRANBERRIES
written
by STELLA FONG photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN
MAKES 5 CUPS This sweet, tart and slightly spicy chutney partners perfectly with turkey, roast chicken and even brisket, but I love this topping on a piece of toast that is slathered with ricotta cheese. 1½ c. sugar ¾ c. apple cider ⅓ c. white wine vinegar 3 c. fresh or frozen cranberries 2 Granny Smith apples, peeled, cored and diced 2 T. peeled and minced fresh ginger ½ t. crushed red pepper flakes Salt and ground black pepper, to taste DIRECTIONS: In a large saucepan, heat sugar, cider and vinegar over medium heat. Stir until sugar dissolves. Add remaining ingredients and bring to a boil, reducing heat to a simmer to cook for 25 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in salt and pepper. Store in airtight container to store in refrigerator for up to a week or in the freezer for up to a month.
Red
86 YVW MAGAZINE

cranberry and2 vanillapanna cotta

MAKES 6 SERVINGS

cotta is an easy dessert to make and can be kept in the

for a couple of

After spooning on the cranberry sauce, garnish with chocolate shavings and a dusting of cocoa powder for a more festive presentation.

COTTA

DIRECTIONS: In a small bowl, add ¼ cup cream and sprinkle gelatin over the top. Let stand until softened, about 10 minutes. Place bowl in a larger bowl of hot water and stir until the gelatin is dissolved.

In a saucepan, over medium heat, bring remaining cream, sugar and salt to a boil. Remove from heat, add chocolate and whisk until smooth.

Add the gelatin to the mixture and stir until well blended. Stir in vanilla. Pour through a fine strainer into a 4-cup measuring cup. Divide mixture evenly among ½ cup ramekins or glasses and let cool to room temperature.

Cover the ramekins loosely with plastic wrap and refrigerate until set, about 3 hours and up to 1 day.

In a small saucepan combine sugar and cornstarch. Add cranberries and water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 2 minutes, stirring, until cranberries begin to burst. Transfer to a container and let cool. Spoon onto panna cotta when ready to serve.

chocolate,
Panna
refrigerator
days before serving.
PANNA
2 c. heavy cream 1¼ t. plain gelatin 2 T. sugar Pinch of salt 2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped 1 t. vanilla CRANBERRIES ⅓ c. sugar 1½ t. cornstarch 2 c. fresh or frozen cranberries ¼ c. water holidays2 87NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

baked chicken with2cranberries, olives, capers and2 herbs7

This baked chicken dish is savory, sweet and a touch sour. I have made this many times over the years, adding dried apricots, prunes or raisins instead of dates or even dried cranberries. Bake the dish ahead, letting the flavors meld, then reheat and serve with steamed rice or a big hunk of bread to soak up all the sauce.

3 T. extra virgin olive oil

1 red onion, thinly sliced

½ c. balsamic vinegar

12 dried dates, pitted and halved horizontally

12 green pitted Castelvetrano olives, halved

1 T. capers

3 T. garlic, minced

1 t. fresh rosemary, chopped

1 t. fresh thyme, chopped

Salt and ground black pepper, to taste

3 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs

2 c. fresh or frozen cranberries

1 lemon, quartered, horizontally

1 c. chicken stock

Extra fresh rosemary and thyme sprigs for garnish, optional.

DIRECTIONS: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Over medium high heat, heat oil in a 5-quart Dutch oven. Brown the skin of each chicken thigh, set aside on a plate. Add the onions and sauté the onions until lightly browned, about 2 minutes. Add the vinegar, dates, olives, capers, garlic, rosemary and thyme. Season with salt and black pepper to taste. Sauté for 7 to 9 minutes until onions are translucent and tender. Arrange the chicken in one layer in the Dutch oven. Nestle the cranberries in between the chicken, along with the lemon wedges, center side up. Pour the chicken stock over the cranberries. Bake for 30 minutes, or until the chicken juices run clear. Garnish with additional herbs and add salt and pepper to taste.

MAKES 4 TO 6 SERVINGS 88 YVW MAGAZINE

roasted carrot salad

with2 dried cranberries, blue cheese and2arugula6 MAKES 6 SERVINGS Roasting has become my favorite way to cook carrots. The carrots can be made a day ahead, stored in an airtight container for this salad. Feta cheese and queso fresco can be substituted for the blue cheese if your taste buds prefer. 2 pounds carrots, peeled and thinly sliced on the diagonal 2 cloves garlic, minced 2 T. plus ¼ cup extra virgin olive oil, divided Salt and ground black pepper, to taste ½ c. salted roasted pistachios 2 t. honey 1 T. apple cider vinegar ⅓ c. dried cranberries ⅓ c. crumbled blue cheese 2 c. arugula DIRECTIONS: Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Oil a large baking sheet or line with parchment paper. Set aside. In a large bowl, toss carrots with garlic and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Spread onto prepared baking sheet and bake until carrot edges turn brown, about 30 minutes. Allow to cool to room temperature. In a small bowl, mix together ¼ cup olive oil, honey and vinegar. Return carrots to large bowl. Add pistachios, cranberries and blue cheese and toss with oil mixture. Add arugula, salt and pepper and toss to combine. Serve immediately. 112 N BROADWAY ••• SUITE B ••• (406) 894-2333 macarons • gelato • pastries • chocolates • gifts 89NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
Pictured: Calacatta Aspen, GMC Private Collection V is i t O ur N ew S l ab S how r oom A t O ur B i lli n gs Loc a t i on A nd C hoos e Fr om O ur G r a ni t e M oun t ai n P ri va t e Colle c t i on O f Q ua r t z O r N a t ur al S t one . A ur G t M P va e c on O f Q ua r z O r N t al S one
home7 92 A FAMILY AFFAIR Farmhouse comes together with all hands-on deck to build it 104 SAVING SPACE (& SANITY) Why many are taking the deep dive into master closet organization 91NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

FARMHOUSE COMES TOGETHER WITH ALL HANDS-ON DECK TO BUILD IT

DURING A RECENT VISIT with Melissa and David Black in their newly built farmhouse, the word spills that it’s David’s 50th birthday. Even though it’s a special family day, the gracious hosts invited us in to share how the planning and building of their unique home came together in family affair fashion.

Atop a hill overlooking the Rock Creek area on the East Bench near Roberts, the Beartooth Mountains dominate the western sky. The creek below rolls along near a huge red barn that highlights the landscape.

“It was this one lot (4-plus acres) with a red barn in the view that came popping up when we were looking online for property,” David says. “Every day land was disappearing. It was a buying frenzy and

affair A 92 YVW MAGAZINE

out of control at that time. Initially, we thought we’d come back to the Columbus area, but this one lot with a red barn in the view was surprisingly still available.”

The couple began their search for Montana real estate while living in Missouri. They’d moved south to be closer to Melissa’s mom and three brothers.

“We lived there a long time and our thought was to stay until our girls were out of high school, but Covid came to Missouri,” David says.

“So, we left Missouri,” adds Melissa, who works at Coffee Factory Roasters in Red Lodge. The couple’s two younger daughters,

Elena and Mckenna, attend high school in the ski town while the two older girls, Tahlia and Sylvie, are in college.

“It was culture shock to come back with the girls,” David says. “Their school population (in Missouri) was 2,100 to 2,200.”

Despite the shock, the strong pull back to Big Sky Country embraces the many reasons Melissa and David chose to return. It also accounts for how Aaron Koenigsberg and his team at King’s Mountain Builders ended up building the family’s modern farmhouse.

“We had lots of support from friends encouraging us to move here, so it was a lot less scary,” says Melissa. Long-time friends

93NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

like Aaron and his wife, Ariel, were inspirational motivators for the move.

“I met ArieI when I was 13 and now she’s my best friend,” Melissa says. “My brother, Scott, was program director for 10 years at CCR (Clydehurst Christian Ranch, located southwest of Big Timber) so I met Ariel when going to family camp there.” In 1998, Melissa began working at the camp, and the next year David reported for work.

“I’m a northern person,” David says. “I would come to CCR as camp nurse.” This British Columbia native arrived at CCR via answered prayer.

“It was in God’s hand,” he says. “One day I walked out of a business I worked at and said, ‘God, if you can find me something to do outside’ – and when I got home the light on the answering machine was on. It was my uncle saying he and his wife had gone to work at this camp and they needed a counselor.”

David met Melissa that summer and the connection resulted in a Christmastime ceremony months later. Aaron, who had come from Nebraska the very same summer as a camp counselor, married Ariel three years later.

The two couples stayed in touch, uniting once again to plan and construct the new farmhouse. Melissa and David purchased the acreage and the house plan was designed by Melissa’s brother, architect J.J. Hetherington of Hetherington Design and Consulting in Missouri.

“J.J. graciously donated time and effort to us,” says David. “We wanted simplicity, a rectangle footprint with no wings, no gables and a straight roof.”

The 3,200-square-foot farmhouse, which includes an unfinished basement, features two bedrooms and two baths on the main floor and two bedrooms with a Jack-and-Jill bath and family area upstairs.

“It’s a very well-designed floor plan,” Aaron points out. “Once I got the plan it was working with J.J. to adapt the plan to our climate. We also worked with a local truss company, Pride Industries, to raise the ceiling heights upstairs and in the bedrooms to achieve the vaulted appearance.

“We also helped design the floor systems,” Aaron says. “By using floor trusses instead of the traditional floor systems which were designed in the plan, we were able to create a cleaner look by concealing the mechanical components, HVAC ducts and plumbing, up in the floor systems. There’s nothing in

NATURAL STONE & QUARTZ COUNTER TOPS | FREE IN-HOME ESTIMATES 5850 Interstate Ave • Billings www.magiccitygranite.com252-1106 LOCALLY OWNED AND OPERATED NATURAL STONE & QUARTZ COUNTERTOPS 252-1106 | 5850 Interstate Ave•Billings www.magiccitygranite.com MAGIC CITY GRANITE NATURAL STONE & QUARTZ COUNTER TOPS 5850 Interstate Ave • Billings www.magiccitygranite.com252-1106 FREE IN-HOME ESTIMATES LOCALLY OWNED AND OPERATED
94 YVW MAGAZINE
95NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

Every year, more than 80,000 families in the Billings com munity and surrounding areas face the challenge of food insecurity. The Billings Food Bank is a critical resource for these families, distributing more than 26 million pounds of food annually. With Executive Director Sheryle Shandy at the helm, the food bank ensures high quality food is available year-round to our neighbors in need.

In 2018, the Billings Food Bank created a strategic goal of renovating their building at 218 N 16th Street. Dubbed the 16th Street Project, the building will increase the Billings Food Bank’s ability to serve community members through their backpack, sack lunch, and delivery services. It will also be used to expand the culinary job training program and provide food and nutrition courses for children and adults. The space will not only be functional but has been beautifully designed as an event space for Billings Food Bank, non-profits, and the community. By transforming the formerly abandoned building on 16th Street, the Food Bank increases its impact while beautifying the EBURD area. The Billings Food Bank is currently undergoing a capital campaign to complete renovations of the building. To learn more about how to support this effort, scan the QR code.

Montana’s Brand of Banking Member FDIC | Equal Housing Lender CONGRATULATIONS ON YOUR BEAUTIFUL HOME! (406) 672-2819 newmanclean.com We Care About Your Indoor Air 24/7 Emergency Services before after AIR DUCT CLEANING 97NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

David enjoys cooking, so the most important aspect about the kitchen for him is not getting blocked in. “There’s

to walk around, a ‘no-pinch’ space, so I can continue to cook when others are in the area,” he says.

Melissa’s main delight in the kitchen is the white cast-iron farmhouse sink. One other ‘must have’ is the home’s stunning black-framed windows.

The windows enhance the 360-degree view of the surrounding countryside. “The 6-foot -by-8-foot front window enriches the raw-sawn timber framework of the porch, giving the entry that Montana intrigue.

The distinctive windows emphasize the exterior’s traditional white farmhouse look, as well as the interior’s stunning shiplap walls. Even the staircase is framed in shiplap, and the stair treads leading up to the second-level loft area are skip-sanded fir and larch stained flooring.

“The four of us picked up the shiplap and the wood flooring. It

was all raw wood,” Melissa explains. “Ariel and I were the painting and finishing department. We filled 6,000 nail holes. I never want to paint another house again!”

While the ladies plugged nail holes and painted, David and his dad crafted the kitchen’s 6-foot-long center island, richly dressing it with a custom-milled walnut top. “It’s a tall island and was custom fit to the space,” Aaron says. “The wall cabinets from Beyond the Box are also custom fit.”

“It was collaboration,” says Angie Mills, designer at Beyond the Box. “The homeowners with Aaron and his wife, Ariel, had good creative ideas. They personalized the island and wall shelving, and I facilitated the enclosed storage, like the large pantry next to the fridge.”

The pantry and kitchen cabinetry, painted Sea Salt white, serves up a delicious contrast with black pull hardware. Jasmine White quartz countertops from Rock Solid Countertops enhance the clean look.

A coffee station with floating shelves, fashioned from the raw wood and stained Early American like the flooring, borders one end of the pantry. The other end of the pantry efficiently creates a partition separating the kitchen from the laundry/mudroom area, as well as from the entrance to the main suite.

Ken O’Neil, Owner/Master Plumber 406.671.2537 • oneil.plmb1@gmail.com OFFERING A WIDE RANGE OF EXCEPTIONAL PLUMBING SERVICES SERVING BILLINGS AND THE SURROUNDING AREAS Specializing in Service, Repair and Remodels FULLY LICENSED AND INSURED It was a pleasure to work on the Koski home! TAKING YOUR PLUMBING NEEDS SERIOUSLY 406-655-1200 6956 Commercial Ave Billings, MT josh@pridetruss.com Congratulations on your — beautiful home!$59.95 Regular Oil • $69.95 Synthetic Oil (406) 245-5I78 YOUR EXHAUST EXPERTS LUBE, OIL & FILTER CHANGE Cannot be combined w/ other offers Up to 5 qts of oil • Exp. 12/31/22 Don “JR” Marty the ceiling. We also pushed it out two feet to allow more space in the kitchen.” The expanded floor plan reflects the family’s lifestyle with an open living/dining and kitchen design. “It’s important and really nice to communicate freely from couch to stove,” says David.
enough space
"THE FAMILY LAID OUT THE HOUSE TO FIT THEIR LIFESTYLE."
— Aaron Koenigsberg
98 YVW MAGAZINE
99NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
406-656-7017 ✥ 6938 Grand Avenue ✥ Billings, Montana ✥ email : artisticiron.billingsmt@gmail.com • IN BUSINESS FOR 45 YEARS • Indoor And Outdoor Iron Stair Rails Curved Railings Custom Wrought Iron Fences Metalwork Arches Ornamental Metalwork Egress Window Guards For Security AFTER SMALL JOBS ✥ REMODELS ✥ NEW CONSTRUCTION Custom BuiltIron Rails BEFORE Avoid railing accidents, call us today! RESIDENTIAL / COMMERCIAL / FARM & RRANCH ESIDENTIAL COMMERCIAL FARM & RANCH Marie McHatton, MRealtor® arie McHatton, Realtor® 406-672-8532 406-672-8532 www.WesternSkiesMT.com www.WesternSkiesMT.com WESTERN SKIES REAL WESTATE ESTERN SKIES REAL ESTATE While your house is in Wsparkle hile your house is in sparkle mode, let's list it and show it moff ode, let's list it and show it off for top market fvalue. or top market value. 100 YVW MAGAZINE
101NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

“The

“Each girl had to sand and

“The family laid out the house to fit their

says

a

What started as a vision for Melissa and David has come to fruition.

family

made it a

Your Honest, Hometown Full-Service Repair Shop 406-839-9100 6809 King Ave. W., Unit B, Billings www.autotechspecialists.com “The Dirty Hands Crew”No Job Is Too Big Or Small! • Tune ups • Oil changes & lube • Brake services • Engine replacements • Clutch repairs • Air conditioning • Transmissions • Alignments • Diesel repair • Free loaner cars • Servicing all makes and models • One of only two AAA Top Shops in Montana STAY WORRY-FREE while you’re onthe road this WINTER!
sloped ceiling is not the same pitch as the outside,” says David, referring to the main bedroom. “It opens up the room.” A transom window above the bed and a large window invite a plethora of natural light into the room. White subway-tiled shower walls in the en suite, along with a white hexagon-tiled floor, encourage more light to reflect in this serene space. Teenagers Elena and Mckenna enjoy their personal spaces upstairs along with the big family area. They make good use of their individual custom-organized walk-in closets and each one also appreciates a private loft in her bedroom.
finish the ladder up to her loft,” David says. One ladder is green and the other is yellow.
lifestyle,”
Aaron. The modern farmhouse atop the hill genuinely expresses
gathering place for family and friends.
The
and friends who pulled this farmhouse together from concept to reality
family affair. ✻ 102 YVW MAGAZINE

builder7 SPOTLIGHT

“THE INSPIRATION for our projects comes from a collaborative effort of each of the members on our team at King’s Mountain Builders,” says owner Aaron Koenigsberg.

“From the time a prospective client brings us their inspiration for their next home it goes through a revisionary process where each of our team members can bring their expertise to the design table throughout the course of the project to create the final product.

“This inspiration stems from years of collective experience on many challenging projects from the design to the implementation. Each home is very individual, based on the client’s needs and wants.

“Our desire at King's Mountain Builders is to create unique homes of the highest quality. We are always looking for new and different products/styles to introduce to our clients. It can be a balancing act between implementing the design components which the clients like and maintaining their required budget restraints. From the smallest home to the most elaborate it's our desire to treat each project as if it's someone's ‘castle.’

“It is very important to us that the client is 100 percent pleased with their finished home, and this takes very thorough planning, meetings with the clients and changes to a plan to design a home better than an original plan. It's the special attention to detail that we take to make changes and improve a plan so the clients are completely satisfied in all aspects of the building process.”

, visit www.kingsmtnbuilders.com.

Contact us today for a FREE consultation! 406-702-4401 kingsmtnbuilders.com | kingsmtnbuilders@gmail.com Custom Built Homes Home Remodeling and
FOR MORE INFORMATION
AARON AND ARIEL KOENIGSBERG 103NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
WHY MANY ARE TAKING THE DEEP DIVE INTO MASTER CLOSET ORGANIZATION written
by JULIE KOERBER photography by DANIEL SULLIVAN
saving (& SANITY)spacesaving (& SANITY)space 104 YVW MAGAZINE

GONE ARE THE DAYS when a simple closet consisted of a shelf or two and one hanging rod. Today’s modern closets are becoming the lifeblood of a master suite, organizing everything from pants and shoes to neckties and even jewelry. No matter the space you have, there’s a system to help you store your wardrobe more efficiently.

“Closets went from being utilitarian to being one of the first places you step into in the morning. It kind of sets the tone for the day. If it’s disorganized, your day is going to feel disorganized,” says Kristy Ferguson, owner of Beyond the Box.

Beyond the Box, a design company that specializes in kitchens and cabinetry of all kinds, recently jumped into the closet business, joining forces with Anita Price, a closet expert with 18 years of experience.

“I love working with the client and trying to help them with their needs,” Anita says. “Some people can’t really visualize so I love being there to help them.”

Anita’s visit with a homeowner begins by learning — in intricate detail — how the master closet is used.

Anita will ask, —“Do you wear cowboy boots? Do you have a lot of dresses? Do you wear baseball caps?” — trying to figure out a person’s exact storage needs. She’ll measure the space and look at the homeowner’s existing closet to make sure there are enough double hanging rods, spaces for longer clothes and a variety of shoes. In the end, it’s like putting together a puzzle, making sure it all fits and that every square inch is used in the best way possible.

“I work hard with the homeowner to give them the tools to organize their closet,” Anita says.

Both Anita and Kristy say you can probably thank Marie Kondo for the new attention to the master closet. The organizational guru became popular on her show ‘Tidying Up with Marie Kondo” and often told others to discard everything that does not spark joy.

“Maybe that was the start of people thinking, ‘Okay, I need to get organized and bring Zen into my life,’” Anita says with a laugh.

The closet industry listened to the public’s desire for organization, and as a result there are now more accessories that you can add to a closet than ever before.

“There are hampers, pull-out baskets, drawers. We can do hutches,” Anita says,

Home Loan Solutions Sam Van Dyke Home Loan Consultant NMLS# 776569 Cara Blaylock Home Loan Consultant NMLS# 1149700 Call us for your Real Estate Needs! Refinancing Remodeling Purchasing Building 2905 MILLENNIUM CIRCLE • BILLINGS, MT • 406-652-0100 R USTIC M OUNTAIN F URNISHINGS Family Owned for 18 Years Gift BuyingMade Easy! UNIQUE MONTANA MADE HAND CRAFTED 105NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022

HIDDEN AWAY GRAB AND GO IT MUST ADJUST

With hidden storage, you can see what you want to see and store what you don't! Stash away the bulky or out of place items to make your closet feel uniform and more spacious.

It's so convenient to be able to remove the entire basket out of the cabinet and replace it just as easily! Pullout baskets are perfect for laundry, pantry items, stuffed animals, and linen

With adjustable shelving and rods, you can customize your space to fit your unique styles and needs The best closet designs will prove to accommodate you moving forward in life

724 1ST AVE N | BILLINGS | (406) 245-6981 | BTBCABINETS.COM Soft Close Removable Soft Close Hidden Hamper Adjustable Shelves & Rods Slanted Shoe Shelf Hidden Storag
REFRESH YOUR CLOSET SC SE LO SCAN TO SEE OUR CLOSET LOOKBOOK
add the feeling of furniture to a master closet and take the need for a bulky dresser out of the main bedroom area. drawers drawers Soft closeSoft close is the perfect closet accessory to keep your dirty clothes in one place, ready to be washed. No need for a clumsy hamper in this master closet. This HAMPER HAMPER PULL OUTPULL OUT 107NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
not only keep your shoes organized but help you to see each pair more clearly. RACKS RACKS SHOE SHOE SLANTED SLANTED 108 YVW MAGAZINE

listing them all off. “We can also do a lighted hanging clothes rod, a belt rack, a tie rack and valet rod.” And, to make sure every inch is used, one of the latest trends is a hanging rod that is curved to efficiently use up spaces in the corner.

When it comes to the look, that’s changed a lot too. Sure, the wire-style systems are still available, but Anita prefers creating a space that has the feel of furniture instead, with drawers and pulls that bring personality to the space. More recently, she has started creating a two-tone look in closets where the base cabinetry is one color and the drawers feature a complementary color. And, when it comes to the handles and rods, chrome isn’t the only option anymore.

“I can do gold, black, brushed nickel or chrome rods,” Anita says. “It’s exciting and can bring more style into a closet.”

When Kristy recently moved into her new home, she couldn’t wait to add lighted rods to her space. She uses her valet rod to set out her clothes each morning and she loves all the drawers she’s added to her closet as well.

“I don’t like having a dresser in my bedroom,” Kristy says, “so being able to move the drawers into the closet is huge for me because it feels much cleaner.”

Probably the best part about the evolution of closets is the fact that nearly all of the systems Anita helps design are adjustable, allowing homeowners to change up features through the years.

“We just recently remodeled a closet where the homeowner has small children,” Kristy says. “She’s able to change the closet rods as the kids grow and they are now able to get dressed themselves. Instead of their clothes being so far up that they can’t reach, she just adjusts it as they grow.”

I DON’T LIKE HAVING A DRESSER IN MY BEDROOM. SO BEING ABLE TO MOVE THE DRAWERS INTO THE CLOSET IS HUGE FOR ME BECAUSE IT FEELS MUCH CLEANER.
— Kristy Ferguson
109NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022
Expanding boundaries & building communities 406-252-0576 | WWW.P3COLEMAN.COM 110 YVW MAGAZINE

VELVET

HANGERS HANGERS

might cost a wee bit more than the plastic or wire variety but with their slim profile, they are not only space-saving but help keep slick fabrics from sliding off the hanger. This closet also features a lighted rod, illuminating your options to wear for the day.

help keep all your bling organized and in its place. Speaking of bling, check out these gold and glass drawer pulls that add an air of elegance to a master closet.

Velvet-lined DRAWERS DRAWERS JEWELRY JEWELRY
VELVET
NOVEMBER/DECEMBER 2022 111

With the evolution of this part of the home, the price tag has evolved as well. You can add pieces for a few hundred bucks, all the way up to a whole home closet remodel with all the upgrades possible in the thousands.

“I will say, I have something for everyone in every budget,” Anita says.

And, she has ideas for virtually every size space. Anita laughs when she talks about her old home in Red Lodge, built in 1909.

“It had slanted ceilings and a tiny, confined closet,” she says. “I amazed myself that I was able to add drawers with some double hang rods.”

While some might want to organize small spaces, Anita says she’s done a handful of remodels this year where a homeowner has taken an extra bedroom and made it a dressing room instead, complete with sitting spaces and islands for extra storage.

“I think closets have become more important in the home, especially for resale value,” Anita says. And, she says, homeowners feel this space has the ability to calm the chaos of our lives.

“When you walk into your closet and it’s organized and nice, it brings a feeling of peace,” she says. “In people’s busy lives, that how they want to feel.” ✻

©2018 Budget Blinds, LLC. All Rights Reserved. Budget Blinds is a trademark of Budget Blinds, LLC and a Home Franchise Concepts Brand. Each franchise independently owned and operated. Call now for your free in-home consultation! Blinds • Shutters • Shades • Drapes • Home Automation 406-248-9968 BudgetBlinds.com WISHING YOU A SAFE & HAPPY VISIT WWW.YVEC.COM FOR MEMBER REBATES AND MORE Holiday Season
I THINK CLOSETS HAVE BECOME MORE IMPORTANT IN THE HOME, ESPECIALLY FOR RESALE VALUE AND HOMEOWNERS FEEL THIS SPACE HAS THE ABILITY TO CALM THE CHAOS OF OUR LIVES.
112 YVW MAGAZINE

IS LIGHT

OUR FUTURE
3759 POLY DR 8720 DANFORD 6033 CANYONWOODS DR 5041 CHEYENNE TRAIL7409 CHAROLAIS ST 3737 PARKHILL DR ROBIN HANEL 406-860-6181 Robin@RobinHanel.com TEAM HANEL TOM HANEL 406-690-4448 Tom@TomHanel.com KORINNE RICE 406-697-0678 Korinne@TeamHanel.com new listing new listing new listingnew listing new listing new listing 1125 BROADWATER AVE soldsold soldsold sold sold sold sold 3215 MCMASTERS RD3730 VICKERY CT 5607 BOBBY JONES BLVD 1128 N 26TH ST 202 S 38TH ST 5623 GRAND AVE 4805 VERDE LN 104 N BROADWAY #405 www.berkshirehathawayhs.com — Jim and Beckie 3108 ALPINE DR Under ContractUnder ContractUnder Contract Under Contract Robin and Team Hanel have served us well through two quick house sales and our latest house purchase. The house photos and videos displayed our homes in the best possible way to interest online buyers. Their marketing is top-notch! We highly recommend Team Hanel for your next home sale or purchase.
BIG R WEST 2600 Gabel Road (406) 652-9118 BIG R HEIGHTS 1908 Main Street (406) 384-0099 BIG R EAST 216 N. 14th Street (406) 252-0503 BIG R SHERIDAN 2049 Sugarland Dr. (307) 674-6471 BIG R LEWISTOWN 825 NE Main Street (406) 350-4422 BIG R HARDIN 1001 N. Center Ave. (406) 953-5111 On any purchase of Ariat footwear, apparel or accessories from 11/20/22-12/24/22.
• OVER 100YEARS OF COMBINED EXPERIENCE • C A B I N E T S | C O U N T E R T O P S | H A R D W A R E | A P P L I A N C E S
Issuu converts static files into: digital portfolios, online yearbooks, online catalogs, digital photo albums and more. Sign up and create your flipbook.