Happy Holidays!

Tara Bitzan, Chicz Editor

Tara Bitzan, Chicz Editor

Thanks for all the wonderful feedback you sent us after our first issue of Chicz hit the stands in October! We knew we loved the magazine, but we were thrilled to learn that you loved it too! Not only did you send us your appreciation, but you also sent us your fabulous ideas to feature in upcoming issues.

A few of you even got so caught up with the new magazine that you sent us articles, and we’re happy to say, we printed them! A special welcome to contributing writer Amanda Herzog, a 7th grader who felt she had something to offer the “young chicz” in the area.

We’re already at work on your winter issue and would love your input. Please send us a note about what you think of Chicz or share your ideas with us.

In the meantime, enjoy every minute of the holiday season. Don’t get so caught up in the “to do’s” that you miss out on the real joys of the season – time with loved ones. My wish for you is that this time is unhurried, unharried and heartwarming.

Merry Christmas!
Tara Bitzan
Chicz Editor 

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The Single Chic: Stuck in the first date loop?

pink rose broken  -80621420By Annie Harman

Dating isn’t a new experience; it’s the same experience, over and over and over again.
People have been dating since the beginning of time, and while fashion trends, hairstyles and technology may change, dating rarely does.
I’m not talking the simple logistics of online dating vs. speed dating or calling the next day vs. texting the same night. I’m talking about the actual act of trying to impress someone on a first date to see if there could be any potential for it to grow into more.
During what feels like a job interview, you feel your heart racing and sweat forming. Gosh, I hope I remembered to put on deodorant, you think to yourself. Now you are trying desperately not to be fixated on whether or not you are exuding body odor and trying instead to focus on what exactly your date is currently going on about.
When the date is over and done with, you spend the next two days analyzing every small detail, everything you said, everything your date did or didn’t do. You are certain this is what insanity feels like.
Albert Einstein once defined insanity as doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. If you ask me, there can’t be anything more insane than dating. The way I see it is: You go on a first date, you enjoy the date, but you don’t enjoy the date enough to put in any real effort in seeing if it will progress.
As far as dating in your mid to late 20s goes, that’s usually where the dating ends: Another first date chalked up as a last one. You never talk again, and if you do, it’s awkward and short.
Now it’s time to repeat, as you are infinitely stuck in the first date loop.
I believe that the problem people like me are facing isn’t an actual problem, though, just a huge frustration.
Once you pass the college-age era of your life, dating may feel a lot more difficult, but essentially it is a lot more effective. At this point in your life, you know who you are, you know what you’re looking for, and you know what you deserve. There’s no more searching for yourself and no more wasting time on someone that you feel in your gut isn’t really the person for you. You are past that stage.
The beauty of it, if you wish to call it that, is everyone else in your dating pool is at that point in their life, too. The games have ended and you’re now coming face to face with people after the same exact thing: something real.
Of course, this doesn’t mean that every fish in the sea is a keeper for you; you’re still going to have to throw out your line a couple of times.
So, if you feel you are in dating purgatory, going on endless first dates and zero second ones, don’t sweat it. You may not realize it at the time, but you’re doing it right.

Annie Harman of Alexandria is a free-spirited writer who believes in dreams, laughing and champagne.

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He sez … she sez: “We do this with leftovers…”

AmyAndBrandon_cBy Brandon and Amy Chaffins

Amy: We both have jobs that allow us to stop home for our lunch break during the week. There’s usually just enough time to throw together a sandwich or heat up leftovers and ask each other, “How’s your day going?” We take the dog outside, gobble up our lunch, steal a smooch and away we go back to work. Here’s the catch – the first person home for lunch gets the good leftovers.

Brandon: For almost my entire career, I have not been able to regularly stop home for lunch. I got quite used to a brown bag lunch and the occasional restaurant visit with the fellas on shift. That changed a little over a year ago and I do really enjoy stopping home and seeing my lovely wife for a bit. You all know that leftovers taste better the next day for some reason. I think the flavors meld over time sort of like an aged piece of beef. Mmmmm … Beeeeeeeeffffffff …… sure ain’t a dang bean burger! Yeah, I’m still not over that one!
Amy: My favorite is leftover hotdish. When you’re in the midst of workday hubbub, there’s something blissfully comforting knowing there’s a warm bowl of leftover tuna noodle hotdish waiting to be devoured at home. In my opinion, hotdish makes everything better. However, that tasty dream can be instantly shattered when I get home, open the refrigerator door and … discover … the hotdish … is … gone!!!

Brandon: I would defend myself to say that my wife is a good cook. Nuff said. OK, oK, I do think it’s kinda funny to get the “What the heck?!” reaction when she realizes the planned meal is gonzo.

Amy: I know he secretly sits there, shovels in the hotdish and snickers like an evil cartoon character … because that’s exactly what I do when I get to the leftovers before he gets home for lunch.

Brandon: Yup, guilty. Waa-ah-ah-ah! (That’s my evil cartoon character laugh.)

Amy: Then there are the leftovers I wouldn’t touch with a 10-foot-pole. I’ll leave them in there for days kind of hoping the funky food will jump into the trash on its own, but my husband feels obligated to eat whatever is in there … why is that? I’ve never had qualms about throwing away food – I know, shameful waste, but I just don’t have the “stomach of steel” that hubs has.

Brandon: As far as the stuff that sits in the fridge for a little while – if it doesn’t stink, it’s not fuzzy, if it’s not encased in slime (except for those of you brave souls that eat lutefisk, I always went for the mashed potato and meatball option), what the heck, I’ll eat it. I have also found that a quick rinse under the faucet can cure all sorts of food blemishes. Hmmm …. Still good to eat!

Amy: Why do we do this “steal each other’s” lunch thing? Are we the only ones? I adore this guy, but sometimes I can’t help myself from purposely taking his favorite treat! Is it revenge? Is it sinister? Is it flirtation? Am I a sicko? Regardless, it sure is fun … when I’m the one doing the lunch stealing.

Brandon: I would call it survival of the fittest or the circle of life. I wonder how things would be if we sang Hakuna Matata together sometime? Yeah, I would still eat the leftovers if I beat Amy to them. Waa-ah-ah-ah. Ha, ha, ha, ha!!! Keep the faith, fellas!

Brandon and Amy Chaffins of Alexandria have been married 11 years – long enough to have learned to live with each other’s “quirks.”

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Bugged! Fend off mosquitoes this summer

mosquito Metro_N1109P19006CBy Dr. Carly Erickson

Summer in Minnesota is finally here and that means so are those annoying mosquitoes! But before you reach for that toxic bug spray, try some of these natural recommendations to ward off those irritating insects!

GROW PLANTS THAT
REPEL MOSQUITOES
Citronella, as many people know as the main ingredient in most mosquito repellents, is actually a plant. It’s a member of the geranium family. Clipping or crushing the leaves and rubbing them on the skin helps to naturally repel mosquitoes.

Lemon balm, a member of the mint family, is easy to grow and drought resistant. Just break off a leaf and rub on your skin as a repellent.
Marigolds contain Pyrethrum, which helps ward off mosquitoes, nematodes and other animals. They are a very hardy annual plant that is bright and beautiful.
Basil, like the citronella, can be rubbed onto the skin as an insect repellent. Additionally, dried lime basil can be burned to keep those mosquitoes away. It’s perfect for throwing into a bonfire.
Catnip has been found to be 10 times more effective than DEET, a common ingredient in many bug sprays. The leaves can be rubbed on topically. Be careful not to plant in your garden though, as all the

neighborhood cats will roll around on your plants if given the chance!
Rosemary, commonly known as a favorite seasoning, is perfect to have in the garden to keep the bugs away, and as an added bonus, it even attracts butterflies!
Lavender can keep away insects and rabbits. Its oil’s lovely fragrance is even thought to hinder a mosquito’s ability to smell.
Garlic, while eating it won’t repel mosquitoes, planting it in your garden will.

MAKE YOUR OWN
BUG SPRAY
USING HERBAL
ESSENTIAL OILS
Fill a spray bottle (usually 4-8oz size) with half distilled water and half witch hazel.
Add up to 30-50 drops of various essential oils to desired scent, the more oil you use, the stronger the spray.
Commonly used essential oils for mosquito repellent include: citronella, lemon balm, lavender, rosemary, cinnamon, lemon eucalyptus, basil, thyme, peppermint and/or cedarwood.
Apply spray topically only as needed.
As always, use caution when handling essential oils, particularly around small children and pets. Essential oils are very concentrated liquids and can be hazardous if not used properly!

Carly Erickson of Alexandria is a doctor of naturopathic medicine at the Dynamic Healing Center in Alexandria.

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A wriggling success!

Stay-at-home mom makes career out of fish and worms

Jost_061415_3690cBy Tara Bitzan

Debbie Jost of Alexandria never has a shortage of things to do.
On any given day she can be found attending sporting events for one or more of her four active children or driving them to appointments or school functions; helping her husband, Rob, with their fish farm business, spawning suckers or delivering fish several states away; keeping the house in order and making some of her big family meals she is well known for; or, doing all of the above.
Because having a flexible schedule and being available for her family has always been a priority, five years ago she decided to try her hand at another home-based business to supplement the family income.
That decision has turned into a wriggling success!

How did you end up owning a business?
We have been fish farmers for 21 years. Rob is a graduate of the Alexandria Technical College aquaculture program. We purchased the Minnesota Muskie Farm in Forest Lake and moved it to our home in Millerville. We later purchased acreage by Lake Brophy and built five ponds and expanded to walleye, northern pike, perch, black crappie and small mouth bass.
We now lease more than 1,000 acres of water to raise game fish. We sell most of the walleye and muskies to the Minnesota DNR for public lake stockings. We also sell to lake associations, sportsmen clubs, muskie clubs and to individuals who own their lakes.

How did fish turn into worms?
We knew someone who raised wax worms; he thought we should sell them in addition to our fish farm work. So five years ago we started Speedy Worm. We thought if we sold them we should sell different types of worms also.
I did a lot of research on what people use for live bait, then found suppliers and educated myself on how to pack and ship bait so it arrives alive. I need to make sure the worms are not in transit too many days, and I don’t ship if temperatures are over 90 or below -10.
Importing was another learning experience. It took me seven months to get an importation license. Finding a reputable worm grower that can speak English was another challenge. After getting the importation permit, I had to get special mailing labels that my exporter has to put on the boxes. I had to hire a broker to work with the U.S. Department of Agriculture. It’s interesting how many governmental departments are involved.
A unique twist, isn’t it? You raise and sell fish, and you sell the bait that may ultimately catch those fish?
The worm business compliments the fish business. When the fish harvest is in full swing, the worm business is slow, so I can help with the fish harvest.
Being a fish farmer has given me the education to recommend the correct bait. Customers like to talk about fishing and I can definitely do that, with more than 20 years of experience in the fish business!

How did you come up with the name and logo?
This was difficult. We did many domain name searches on the Internet. We wanted a name easy to say and remember and one that people would associate with getting bait fast and fresh. The logo gives the mental picture of fast, wiggly bait, perfect for catching fish.

Who are your customers?
I sell to individuals, bait shops and wholesalers anywhere in the U.S. I do not ship out of the country. Most places in the U.S are not as lucky as we are in Minnesota. Almost every mile we can stop at a bait shop and get what we need. Some people have to drive more than an hour to get bait.
I am less expensive and I deliver to their door. I also sell to fishing tournaments. I sponsor an ice fishing team out of Nebraska. They fish in NAIFC tournaments in many states and placed fifth last winter. I provide their bait.

Do you have any employees?
Speedy Worm is a family business. All our kids help, especially in the summer when sales really soar. Amy is 18, April 16, Alex 14 and Aaron is 12.

Has business met expectations?
Speedy Worm has grown beyond my expectations. I wanted a stay-at-home business that would pay the mortgage and our health insurance premiums. After two years, it made those payments. Staying home and running my own business was very important to me. I wanted to be available to run our kids around and still help Rob with our fish farm.

What is the most difficult thing about owning a business?
The phone doesn’t stop ringing. During busy seasons both the office phone and my cell are ringing at the same time.
Also, I am dealing with a live product. I need to do all I can to ensure they arrive alive, but the customers must do their part as well. The worms can die if they don’t pick them up when they arrive at the post office or have someone home at delivery. If the bait dies and customers are not happy I lose money and they may post negative feedback online, which can hurt my business.

What has been the most rewarding aspect?
Positive feedback. People love my customer service; they see I care about providing them with a great product. If a problem comes up I try to put myself in their position and treat them how I’d expect to be treated.

Speedy Worm products:

Canadian nightcrawlers are hand-picked from the Canadian worm belt. They also grow here, but not in the numbers they do in Canada. They are 5” to 8” long.
European nightcrawlers are a hardy, wiggly worm with tough skin. They are a great compost worm. Here they are known as panfish worm, big red, trout worm, leaf worm, and jumbo red. They are 2” to 3”. I have them imported from the Netherlands.
Wax worms are the larva to the greater moth. They are a popular winter bait but also a good summer variety. They are 3/4” long and plump. I sell a lot to bird sanctuaries and pet shops. They are used to feed birds and reptiles.
Spike are the blue bottle nose fly larva. They are a popular reptile food. Como Zoo orders these every two weeks from me.
Leeches are a short seasonal fishing bait. I sell them from ice out to the Fourth of July. They are not blood suckers or medical leeches. Mine are ribbon leeches. They burrow in the mud over the winter and come out when the ice goes off the lake. Most leeches sold around the country come from the clean lakes of Minnesota.
Mealworms are the larva of the adult darkling beetle and are used for live bird and reptile food. I sell three sizes: large (1/2” to 1”); giant (1.25”), this one is also used for fishing bait; super (2” to 2.25”).
Crickets can be used for bait but are more popular as reptile food. I don’t keep these on hand; another company drop ships them for me. Drop shipping is popular with online businesses. I send them a packing slip to put in the box, they make the shipping label with my return address.
Compost worms, known as red wigglers, are the most popular compost worm. They are sold by the pound; 1 pound is about 1,000 worms. They are very small but reproduce very fast. The compost industry is becoming popular; in some states it is mandatory for people to compost. These can also be used as fishing bait.
Hopper cedar blue bird feeders. I also sell these feeders, designed to feed live mealworms, wax worms and spikes. Worms can’t crawl out but birds can easily go in and eat.

To learn more about Speedy Worm, visit www.speedyworm.com.
To learn more about the Minnesota Muskie Farm, visit www.facebook.com/mnmuskiefarm.

Tara Bitzan of Farwell loves writing, organizing and trying to keep up with her teenage daughters

Posted in Real Chicz of Douglas County | Leave a comment

New uses for ice cube trays

Fruit cubes_ThinkstockPhotos-71058853fadeBy Karen Jennissen

Ice cube trays are a great way to preserve ingredients for later uses. Once cubes are frozen, pop them out and place in a freezer bag and label.
Here are some ways to make use of them:

WINE: You had a glass or two and there is some still left in the bottle, freeze it in cubes. Use to deglaze a pan or use to chill your next glass of wine.

STOCK: Do you have some leftover stock you either made or poured from the carton? Pour the remaining into an ice cube tray and freeze. These are great for flavoring other dishes, or deglazing a pan.

BACON FAT: Freeze the drippings next time you fry bacon. Warm a cube to whisk into salad dressing, or use to sautéed greens or fry up some potatoes.

GARLIC AND GINGER: Create a slurry from garlic or grated ginger by pureeing it with water and freezing. Use in stir-fries, mashed potatoes and soups.

COFFEE AND TEA: Make ice cubes from yesterday’s brew. Use in iced coffees; whiz in blender for coffee slushy. Use ice tea cubes in lemonade or add to cocktails.

HERBS: Don’t let these precious goodies go to waste; chop your leftover fresh herbs and pack them into the ice cube tray compartments. Fill with oil or butter. They make great flavor enhancers for future meals.

COOKED ONIONS: Make a double batch and freeze the extras. Use to enhance a baked potato, as a burger topping or make a quick toast or bagel spread.

BABY FOOD: Prepare fresh fruits and vegetables by cooking (if necessary) and pureeing. Place in ice cube trays and freeze. After frozen, place in freezer bags portion needed for your baby’s meal.

EGG WHITES: Do you have leftover egg whites from baking? Freeze them to use in omelets, macaroons, angel food cake or meringues.

ORGANIZE: Here’s a cheaper option than a fancy organizer. Use an ice cube tray to sort jewelry, sewing supplies, makeup, craft supplies, screws and nails or office supplies to name a few. Here’s a bonus – they are stackable.
ICE POPS: This is naturally delicious and easy to adapt flavors. Using 100 percent fruit juice and fresh fruit, place in ice cube tray, add a popsicle stick and freeze.

PORTION COOKIE DOUGH: When you make cookie dough, make some extra or only bake half of them. Place the rest of the dough into ice cube trays and freeze. Then you can just bake a few when you want a sweet treat. Great for when unexpected company stops over.

Karen Jennissen of Alexandria is a wife, mom and DIYer.

Posted in Crafty Chicz, DIY, Get Organized, Home & Gardenz | Leave a comment

It’s time to head outdoors!

When summertime rolls around, the lakes area comes alive and what better way to celebrate the outdoors than camping! In this issue, we have you covered with recipes for the campfire, fun family events and games and even some tips for watching fireworks.

Try our suggestions for enjoying a glass of wine outdoors, or even a non-alcoholic drink with our Summer Bluesberry Punch. Check out our tips for making the most of your grill or changing the color of your front door to spruce up your home.

And don’t forget about your health. Heading outside in the summer can give your attitude a boost, but don’t forget about sun and mosquito protection. We have some interesting information on staying safe from both sunburn and West Nile virus.

And, of course, we have your usual favorites in this issue – Real Chicz of Douglas County, a Guyz Perspective, He Sez … She Sez, and some great book suggestions.

So grab this latest edition of Chicz and head outside to enjoy all that this summer has to offer!

~Lori Mork, Chicz editor

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Ain’t no cure for the summertime blues

By Crystal Dey

SumemrtimeBluesberryPunch2cutoutWho says there ain’t no cure for the summertime blues? Well, Eddie Cochran and Alan Jackson have made the claim … clearly those fellas never had a good ole Mason jar of Summertime Bluesberry Punch.
Reminiscent of childhood memories wearing long-sleeves, bug dope and tucking my pant legs into my socks to avoid ticks while searching Minnesota side roads for that bountiful blueberry patch, Summertime Bluesberry Punch will brighten the gloomiest of summer days.
This recipe ditches the punch
bowl and can be made by
the glass.

SUMMERTIME BLUESBERRY PUNCH

Ingredients:
Blueberries
Blueberry juice
Sparkling water

You’ll need a cupcake pan, toothpicks and Mason jars or glasses large enough for a cupcake sized ice disc to fit inside for proper presentation of Summertime Bluesberry Punch.
The night before preparing, fill cupcake cups half-way with water and drop a few blueberries in each cup before freezing.
Summertime Bluesberry Punch can be made with fresh blueberry juice from a juicer or store-bought juice. This recipe uses Ocean Spray Blueberry juice. When juicing, a cup of fruit makes approximately half a cup of juice.
Fill glass(es) halfway with blueberry juice and float an ice disc on top. Slowly pour sparkling water over ice to maintain color separation. Klarbrunn Vita Ice Acai Blueberry Pomegranate sparkling water was used to create the two-tone hue in the Summertime Bluesberry Punch shown in the photo.
Slide a few blueberries onto a toothpick for garnish and kick back with the cure for the summertime blues.

Crystal Dey is a reporter for the Bemidji Pioneer. She enjoys converting cocktails to mocktails and concocting non-alcoholic drink recipes that people of all ages can savor.

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Recipes for the campfire

By Lori Mork

200263255-001BBQ Hot Dog and Potato Packs
Ingredients:
1 package (20 ounces) refrigerated red potato wedges
4 hot dogs
1 small onion, cut into wedges
1/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1/2 cup barbecue sauce

Directions:
Divide potato wedges among four pieces of heavy-duty foil (about 18 in. square). Top each with a hot dog, onion wedges and cheese. Drizzle with barbecue sauce. Fold foil around mixture, sealing tightly.
Grill, covered, over medium heat 10-15 minutes or until heated through. Open foil carefully to allow steam to escape. Yield: 4 servings.

Bacon and Eggs on the Grill
Ingredients:
1 egg per person
Bacon, thick cut slices or Canadian bacon
English muffins or bagels
Cooking spray
Muffin pan
Black pepper or seasoning of
your choice

Directions:
Build a medium-size fire in the grill or the campfire.
Place bacon slices on the cooking grate near the opposite side of the fire. Let bacon cook until edges begin to brown and get crispy.
Lightly coat the bottom and edges of a muffin tin with cooking spray. Place the bacon slices and/or the Canadian bacon in the pan with one strip encircling the bottom of the pan and another small piece laid across the bottom of each cup.
Add an egg to each muffin cup, then place the muffin pan on the cooking grate opposite the fire. Add some seasoning and cover the pan (with a lid or some tin foil). Cook until eggs have become white, yolks are set and bacon has finished crisping.
Lightly brush bagels or English muffins with olive oil and lightly toast them on the grill.
Put egg cups between bagels, and add a slice of cheese, if desired.

Campfire Spinach Dip
Ingredients:
Heavy duty aluminum foil
1 cup sour cream
1 package (8 oz.) cream cheese,
room temperature
3/4 cup shredded Parmesan cheese
3/4 cup chopped, frozen spinach, drained.
OPTIONAL: Vegetable soup mix, bacon, garlic, mozzarella cheese, green onions, artichoke
hearts, etc.
Pita chips or breadsticks, for dipping

Directions:
Mix all of the ingredients together in a container that can easily be packed to take camping. This allows the dip flavors to blend before cooking.
Create a tin foil packet by layering two pieces of heavy aluminum foil and placing the dip mixture in the center. A few layers of foil keep the dip from burning and protect the packet from tearing open. Roll up the ends of the foil and bake in the campfire near the coals, but not in the fire for approximately 20-25 minutes or until warm and bubbly.
When warm and melted, serve with pita chips or breadsticks.

Campfire Banana Boats
Ingredients:
1 banana per person
Chocolate chips
Miniature marshmallows
Heavy duty aluminum foil

Directions:
Place a peeled banana on a sheet of aluminum foil. Slice it carefully down the center. Fill it full of chocolate chips and marshmallows. Wrap banana in foil and place on the coals of a campfire or on the grill. Cook for approximately 15 minutes, checking frequently, until mixture in banana is melted and warm.

Pie Iron Tacos
Ingredients:
1 pound ground beef
1 package taco seasoning mix
12 5-inch soft tortillas
1 cup shredded cheese
1/2 onion, chopped
Garnish: shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes, salsa, sour cream

Directions:
Cook ground beef ahead of time; drain. Stir in taco seasoning according to directions.
When ready to serve tacos, spray the inside of a pie iron with non-stick spray. Place a tortilla on one side. Add approximately 1/4 cup beef mixture to tortilla, sprinkle with cheese and onion. Arrange a second tortilla over filling; close the pie iron.
Cook over medium-hot coals until tortilla is crispy and filling is heated through; approximately 10 minutes. Remove from pie iron; garnish as desired.

Campfire French Toast
Ingredients:
1 loaf bread of choice, sliced
1 carton Egg Beaters (16 oz.) or Burnbrae
Farms French Toast Egg Creations
1/4 cup sliced almonds
1 container of strawberries
1 tsp. cinnamon (if using Egg Beaters)

Directions:
Wash strawberries, dice half the container and slice the other half.
Wrap loaf of sliced bread in parchment paper, then in foil, keeping both loose so the bread slices fall slightly open.
Sprinkle the diced strawberries over the loaf, making sure to get some between the slices. Sprinkle sliced almonds.
Wrap the foil and parchment paper tighter around the loaf of bread. Mix carton of Egg Beaters with cinnamon (or Burnbrae Farms Egg Creations); pour evenly over entire loaf of bread before wrapping tightly with a top piece of foil to ensure there are no leaks.
Place over campfire or grill on low to medium heat for approximately 35-40 minutes, moving around occasionally to cook evenly. If bread looks soggy still, cook slightly longer.
Remove from heat and let sit 10 minutes before serving with sugar, syrup and sliced strawberries.

Campfire bacon
This is more of a technique than an actual recipe.

Cooking bacon over an open campfire is made easy by using skewers.
Simply weave your bacon strip back and forth onto a skewer, leaving a gap between the weaves. Continue to add more strips to the skewer, leaving a few empty inches at the end.
Set two logs or rocks on each side of your campfire so that you can rest the skewers on them over the flames.
Rotate the skewers every five minutes or so to ensure even cooking and browning. If you get too many flare-ups in your fire, have a squirt bottle with water nearby to put out the hot spots.
The bacon should be crisp and smoky in approximately 30 minutes.

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

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Don’t leave wine out of summer fun

WineOnBoat_ThinkstockPhotos-78055448By Al Edenloff

When it comes to enjoying a beverage in the great outdoors, an icy cold beer gets top billing.
But why not change things up this summer and try a glass of wine? A bottle of wine is easy to transport, requires only a minimum amount of chilling and doesn’t leave you with that heavy, filled-up “beery” feeling. And it won’t leave you flat – what you don’t drink in a bottle can be easily re-corked for another outing.
White and rose wines are a natural fit for the summer. They’re lighter and can be refreshingly cold on a hot day, bursting with crisp accents such as apple, pear and tropical fruit. Popular choices include Chardonnay, Gewurtztraminer, Pinot Grigio and Riesling, but don’t be afraid to try something new like a Bordeaux Blanc, Fiano, Rioja, Chenin Blanc or a sparkling wine like Prosecco.
If you’re into sweet wines, give ice wine a swirl. Ice wines, made from grapes that freeze on the vine at the end of the harvest season, are among the sweetest dessert wines you can sip. It should be served as cold as possible.
Don’t dismiss red wines in the heat of summer either. Remember, they shouldn’t be sipped at room temperature, no matter what time of the year it is. The general recommendation is to serve reds between 62 and 68 degrees, but in the summer, don’t shy away from giving your favorite bottle a quick chill. Put it in the refrigerator or on top of some ice in a cooler for 20 to 30 minutes. You’ll still be able to taste the rich aromas and flavors, and the wine will be smoother and more refreshing.
One of the best characteristics of red wines is that they pair beautifully with grilled meats and veggies hot off the grill, which makes them ideally suited for summer get-togethers. Try a Lambrusco, Pinot Noir, Gamay, Barbera or Malbec.
A couple other quick tips about taking along a bottle or two of wine on your next outdoor gathering: Ditch the fancy wine glasses. It’s rough-and-tumble out there. Bring sturdy, clear plastic glasses instead. Or if you really prefer the glass, pick up a couple from one of those dollar discount stores.
And unless you’re only bringing screw-cap bottles, always remember the cork screw. Happy summer sipping!

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

Posted in Drinkz, Eventz & Entertainment | Tagged , | Leave a comment

Explore the magical world of fairy gardening

fairy2_114119 (1)By Lori Schultz

A fairy garden is a miniature garden complete with structures and actual living plants. A small-scale version of your yard, but with much less weeding!
The art and creativity of fairy gardens originated in Japan and debuted in America at the Japanese Pavilion at the Chicago World’s Fair in 1893. By 1914, a large Japanese nursery opened a branch near New York City and constructed miniature gardens for New York’s upper class.
Miniature fairy gardening is considered a year-round activity for boys and girls of all ages. With the right plants and care, your Fairy Garden can be enjoyed inside in the winter months and moved outdoors for the spring and summer.
In Celtic lore, if you entice fairies to stop and play, they’ll bring you good luck, health and prosperity. That raises the question of just how a gardener goes about attracting fairies. The secret seems to be giving them a welcoming, peaceful setting, complete with a little house and ample places to play and sit. Exactly what form that takes is a big part of the pleasure of this kind of gardening. Every fairy garden is highly personalized as the creator gets to pick whatever kind of setting catches his/her imagination.
Fairies are all around us but they are very shy creatures so they tend to hide. Our yards, beautiful as they might be, are too large and overwhelming for fairies.
Let’s think like a fairy …. keep things small. Leave tiny spaces between plants where fairies can peek at you, but you can’t see them. In addition to hiding places, fairies love places to rest. All of that flitting and fluttering tires a fairy out, so she will be thrilled to see a bench for lounging and she might also appreciate a soft mossy spot for napping! Once you’ve designed your garden, invite fairies to move in and sprinkle a bit of fairy dust over the garden for good luck.
Think of your garden as a work in progress. It’s fun to add seasonal flowers and holiday decorations from time to time. And, fairies believe variety is the spice of life, so don’t be afraid to rearrange the furniture every now and then!
Don’t be surprised if you find your fairy garden in disarray some morning. Those all-night fairy parties can get a little crazy!

Lori Schultz is the owner of Anderson Florist and Greenhouse in Alexandria. Questions?
E-mail her at Lori@andersonflorist.org.

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