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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He sez, she sez: His Kryptonite – the vet’s office

By Amy and Brandon Chaffins

Amy: We don’t have children, but we have a large dog who thinks he’s a baby – his name is Cash. He’s a 114-pound Labrador retriever and he’s afraid of his own shadow. The dog is a big baby, but my husband is an even bigger baby when it comes to taking the dog to the vet… he just can’t do it.

Brandon: OK, so first of all, I got my dog with every intention of him being a high-speed hunting machine. He most definitely is. On his off time, Cash is a house dog and my wife’s companion. The craziest thing, he’s not gun shy, but there are things/sounds that totally noid him out. I imagine the vet to be the same place as and as enjoyable to Cash as the doctor’s office can be for me. Uff da! Not my favorite place to be.

Amy: My husband is a big, macho, muscular dude who could definitely wrestle a gorilla into a headlock, and the fact that he vapor locks at the idea of seeing the dog in pain was endearing at first. I used to think, “Oh, he’s so sweet and so sensitive.” Fast-forward 10 years of marriage, it’s not so adorable anymore. Now, during each vet visit, it’s an All-Star Wrestling match between 140-pound Amy and a 114-pound dog who does NOT want to be there.

Brandon: Hmmmm…. Wrestle a gorilla? Oops, focus… I got nothin’ here, guys. What can I say? I can’t stand to see or hear my hound dog in pain. It just kills me.
So I’m a wuss, I’m comfortable
with that. At least my wife’s
got the guts to come through.

Amy: What is it with big, tough guys going all mooshy-gooshy when it comes to taking their child to the doctor or their pet to the vet? I certainly don’t enjoy it, but I know that being there during my fur-baby’s shot is comforting for him. Cashy can focus on me when the vet is examining him. I like to think my “good boy” comments and petting his nose are soothing for my dog when he’s being poked and prodded. Moms make everything better, right?

Brandon: (Finally, I get the chance to “insert eye roll here” in this column. Woo Hoo!)

Amy: When I got Cash neutered, my husband down-shifted into over-the-top, nearly-passing-out, couldn’t-even-look-me-in-the-eyes-for-days, high-drama hysteria. Brandon wouldn’t even ride along and sit outside the vet’s office when I picked up Cash after his surgery.

Brandon: Do I even have to explain my behavior? I don’t think so. You should have seen Cash when he came home from that tragic surgery. He looked pretty tough. I felt so bad for the poor guy.

Amy: After that trip to the vet, I found Brandon and Cash on the couch watching football together, recuperating and sulking.

Brandon: Since it wasn’t quite hunting season and Cash was pretty slow moving, watching football was the only guy thing I could think of to try and salvage my poor buddy’s pride. I lobbied pretty aggressively against the whole neuter thing.

Amy: Usually, Brandon is the super hero in our marriage – my man of steel would do anything for me and he makes ever thing better. His kryptonite is trips to the vet. I guess it’s just one of those situations where he truly needs me to step up and be the brave one in the relationship.

Brandon: Until next time,
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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Hold the stuffing

By Amy Reineke

It’s that time of year again…the air is getting colder, the days are shorter and your pants are getting way too tight. Ready or not, here come the holidays!
This time of the year seems to be endless with temptations, starting with all the Halloween candy and continuing through that box of chocolate we get at Valentine’s Day. Statistics for how much weight Americans tend to gain can be from 1 to 10 pounds, but as we know, it’s a tough time of year for anyone to eat healthy.
What can be done? Whether you are trying to lose weight, or simply maintain it, being honest with yourself for the next few months is the best plan. First off, set some limits for yourself. Here are eight tips to help you “battle the bulge.”
• Don’t arrive hungry before attending a gathering; eat something before you go, like an apple, which will help you fill up so you are not tempted to dive into the food when you get there.
• Pass up peanuts, pretzels, chips, and other everyday snacks. Spend your calories on the special treats you really want.
• Wear a form-fitting outfit.
• Make socializing, rather than food, the focus of the event.
• Keep your portions in check – to keep calories under control.
• Plan how much alcohol you’ll drink. It loosens your inhibitions and contributes to calorie consumption.
• Don’t stand near the buffet table. In fact, keep your back to it, so you won’t even see it!
• Practice saying “No, thank you.” It’s OK to turn down invitations or tell a pushy host you don’t want seconds.

Amy Reineke is a health educator with Douglas County Public Health. Public Health’s mission is to prevent, promote and protect the health and environment of residents.

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10 uses for pumpkins

By Lori Mork

We know about using pumpkins for cooking and for jack-o’-lanterns, but here are a few different ideas to use up your bountiful orange harvest.

1. Punch bowl. Hollow out a pumpkin, then place a clear plastic bowl inside. You can use it to serve your favorite beverage at your next party.

2. Bird feeder. Cut your pumpkin in half, hollow out the bottom half, fill it with seed and put hooks in the sides to hang it up for a great alternative to plastic bird feeders. The birds can actually eat the pumpkin, too.

3. Hair conditioner. Restore shine and moisture to dry and damaged strands with a homemade pumpkin hair mask. Combine one cup of pumpkin (you can purée chunks in a food processor or use the canned version), a half cup of yogurt and two tablespoons of honey in a bowl. Mix well, and then apply to hair from root to tip. Cover head with a plastic shower cap and sit for 15-20 minutes. Wash treatment out and follow up with a thorough cleansing using a shampoo and conditioner.

4. Flower pot. You can use a pumpkin as a flower pot. Cut little holes into a pumpkin and use it as the base or you hollow it out and place the flowers inside of it for a great centerpiece.

5. Potpourri dish. For a great way to freshen up your home, hollow out a small pumpkin, place some potpourri inside of it, poke some holes in the top and let the scent out.

6. Body moisturizer. Lock in moisture by smoothing on a body cream made out of pumpkin, coconut oil and ground cinnamon. This can get pretty messy, so try putting the mixture on while in the shower. Rinse off with warm water and dry skin gently with a towel.

7. Wreath. You can use tiny pumpkins for this, weaving them into a fall wreath with leaves and acorns.

8. Exfoliating scrub. For a full body treatment, you can use purée pumpkin and brown sugar (oatmeal is another great exfoliant). Put the mixture onto a damp loofah or cloth and scrub onto skin in circular motions. Finish with a nice warm shower.

9. Facial peel.  By adding apple cider or cranberry juice to a mixture of pumpkin, egg and honey, you will get an astringent effect.

10. Bowl for stew. You can actually use a pumpkin as a dish for soup or stew. At your next party, serve up the stew or soup in a hollowed-out pumpkin.

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Great reads: Braiding Sweetgrass by Robin Wall

By Kathleen Pohlig

Braiding Sweetgrass is not the kind of book I read regularly, but I’m so glad I read it! The author, Robin Wall Kimmerer, was to speak in Alexandria in September but due to travel complications from her home in New York, she was not able to be here. She did make it to Minneapolis September 30th for the presentation of her Booksellers Choice Award for best nonfiction of 2014 from the Midwest Independent Booksellers Association – a well-deserved honor and only one among many she has received for this book.
The book’s subtitle is Indigenous Wisdom, Scientific Knowledge, and the Teachings of Plants. Don’t let that serious-sounding set of words stop you from considering this book!
Kimmerer is a botanist, professor of environmental biology, mother, member of the Potawatomi Nation, and person who loves and respects the earth and all living things. She has been trained to ask questions of nature with the tools of science, and she embraces the notion that plants and animals are our oldest teachers. Through her writing, she hopes to awaken a wider ecological consciousness that requires us to acknowledge our connection with the rest of the living world.
Awed by the miracles of nature, Robin wanted to learn more and eventually earned a Ph.D. in Botany. At the same time, her native roots led her to a different way of seeing the world and appreciating the generosity and gifts of the earth. There is much talk of gratitude, sharing and reciprocity. In one chapter where she talks about “the three sisters” in the garden (corn, beans and squash) and how they depend on each other to thrive, she says, “The way of the Three Sisters reminds me of one of the basic teachings of our people. The most important thing each of us can know is our unique gift and how to use it in the world. Individuality is cherished and nurtured, because, in order for the whole to flourish, each of us has to be strong in who we are and carry our gifts with conviction, so they can be shared with others. Being among the sisters provides a visible manifestation of what a community can become when its members understand and share their gifts. In reciprocity, we fill our spirits as well as our bellies.”
Braiding Sweetgrass is to be read thoughtfully, marked up, re-read and shared. Classified as a book of nature/essays, it runs the risk of being overlooked by most readers. I hope you’ll be intrigued enough to give it a chance!
We are working to arrange an alternate date for Robin Wall Kimmerer to speak in Alexandria. Stay tuned!

Kathleen Pohlig is owner of Cherry Street Books in Alexandria.

What is Christmas?
by Michelle Medlock Adams

This children’s book talks about all the things we see at Christmas, like the lights, cards and presents in fun rhyming text, but ends up telling about the true meaning of Christmas and what we should be celebrating.
The majority of my reading these days is children’s books. One of my daughters received this book from her godmother for Christmas, and I think it is perfect for young ones to understand what Christmas is really about and a good reminder for the rest of us of what we should really be focusing on at Christmas time.

Jaci Stepan of Brandon is the mom of 4-year-old girls, the wife of a fabulous husband and a personal banker at Bell State Bank and Trust.

A Christmas Longing
by Joni Eareckson Tada

After being paralyzed in a diving accident in 1967, Joni is a quadriplegic. She has written and illustrated a number of books and traveled the world sharing her message of faith and hope.
This book of Christmas meditations and illustrations was given to me by a friend many years ago, and our family has used it for our Christmas celebrations ever since.
It is filled with beautiful pictures that Joni paints by holding a brush in her mouth. These illustrations bring her stories to life. Using scripture as a reference for her meditations, Joni helps us to know the true meaning of Christmas. From the beginning, when she explains about the day she realized there was not a Santa, to the heartfelt feelings in chapters like The Promise of Joy, The Experience of Joy and The Fulfillment of Joy, she reminds us that Christmas is special and sacred time. This is a wonderful piece of nostalgia.

Sandy Buckner of Alexandria is married to Bill, is the mother of four and grandmother of four. Retired from her job as Christian education director/caring ministries director at Calvary Lutheran Church, she enjoys time with family and volunteering.

The Night Before
Christmas by Clement C. Moore

This book offers a beautiful description of the anticipation of a child waiting for the magic of Christmas morning!
We have started a tradition at our house that my husband will read it on the night before Christmas each year.
I will always recall seeing him sitting in the rocking chair with our infant daughter in his arms, reading her one of the greatest Christmas tales of all time.
Sarah Reif of Alexandria is the dean of students at Discovery Middle School. She and her husband, Eddie, have one fun-loving daughter named Hazel Diane who is 14 months old. Reif is a self-proclaimed Christmas addict who loves everything about the season and starts decorating the first of November.

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A guyz perspective: Manning the kitchen

By Eric Morken

At the end of the month, families will gather together around the table to celebrate the greatest food holiday of the year.
Thanksgiving has everything a person could want. Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberries, corn, fresh bread and pumpkin pie – it’s like a food puzzle that fits perfectly together every time.
Those staples have been a part of the day for decades. The only difference now is who’s preparing them on many occasions.
Gender roles in America are being thrown out the window as much as ever, and one of the best indications of that is in the kitchen.
The days of food preparation being strictly a woman’s domain are fading, if not already gone completely. A Google search shows a lot more men are cooking today than they were almost 50 years ago.
That backs up what I saw growing up and within my group of friends who are now married. My dad cooked part time in restaurants for more than 30 years and was normally the one making our meals.
I took an interest from watching him. That’s partially why I am the one who does almost all the cooking between my wife and me. It is similar with most of my friends who are now married or in a relationship.
It seems to be more than just a growing trend among couples my age. I did a small study at work by sending out an email to all my coworkers with one question: Who does more of the cooking in your household, a man or a woman?
Our office has baby boomers to millennials, and age didn’t matter much from the responses I got. Of the 19 who answered, eight said women do most of the cooking and four said men. Seven responded that it was split pretty evenly.

Sharing the cooking duties seems to be a popular trend in families where both adults are working outside the home. It’s a matter of necessity in many cases with the first one home having to prepare the meal.
It’s been my experience that the more men try cooking, the more they realize they like it. It’s rewarding to prepare a meal and have it turn out well.
This Thanksgiving, men and women will enjoy the finished product of the meal and take pride in the preparation that goes along with it.

19 people surveyed:
8 replied women
7 replied it’s even
4 replied men

Eric Morken of Alexandria is a husband, father, sports editor and outdoor enthusiast.

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Mommy and me crafts

By Melanie Danner

It’s time to ring in the New Year! Often we get ready to share our New Year’s resolutions with our family and friends. It could be anything from dropping a few pounds to going to the gym. This year, I’ve decided to try something different. For one of my crafts, I created an “Acts of Kindness” Jar.
This New Year’s Eve, while we wait for the grand countdown; I plan to brainstorm with my family and friends various acts of kindness to do. Then each week as a family, we will complete one of the acts from the jar. I hope this will help to teach my daughter the joy and happiness acts of kindness can bring. Doing this as a family will be a great way to spend time together this upcoming year. Happy 2015 everyone!

Oreo Turkey
Oreos (Any flavor is fine)
Candy corn
Pretzel sticks
Chocolate chips

1. Open an Oreo and place five candy corn kernels in frosted side.
2. Break a pretzel stick for two legs and place in frosted side.
3. Open another Oreo and take the frosting out.
4. Place the frosting on top of the candy corn and pretzels.
5. Replace the top of the Oreo
6. Open another Oreo and take the frosting out.
7. Use 1/2 of the frosting and roll into a ball.
8. Center the ball on top of the Oreo and squish a candy corn for the nose and two chocolate chips for the eyes.

Birdseed Ornament
Birdseed (1-1/2 cup)
2 Instant gelatin packets
Water (1/4 cup)
2 to 3 cookie cutters

1. Simmer water and add gelatin packets. Stir until dissolved. Let cool for a minute.
2. Stir in birdseed until the liquid is absorbed.
3. Fill cookie cutters half full on foil.
4. Add a loop from the ribbon and then finish filling.
5. Let it set overnight and the next day you have birdseed ornaments for the tree inside or outside!

“Acts of Kindness” Jar
Items to decorate the jar
2 12” x 12” scrapbook paper
Scissors/paper cutter
Glue gun/glue

1. Decorate jar.  I used ribbon, leaves, and berries with a glue gun.
2. Cut paper into 1” x 3” pieces.
3. Write acts of kindness with the kids to complete throughout the year.

Footprint Ornament
Modeling clay in white. (or any other color you wish)
Styrofoam/plastic plate
Plastic knife
Ribbons of your choice
Acrylic paint of your choice

1. Roll clay into ball about the size of your fist.
2. Place on the plate and squish it down like a flat pancake about 1/2-inch thick. The clay will show your fingerprints from squishing it down. Flip it over; the other side should be smooth.
3. Press your child’s hand or foot into the model magic for a deep imprint.
4. Use the knife to cut around outside edge of the hand/foot.
5. Make a hole with the knife, so that later you can use it to thread a ribbon through.
6. Smooth any edges along the outside with the knife.
7. Dry 24 hours.
8. Paint your print, let it dry.
9. Cut ribbon to loop in hole and hang on the tree.
10. Use a sharpie to write name and date on back.

Melanie Danner of Alexandria is an at-home mother and craft lover.

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Reindeer Christmas ornament

By Cayla Bitzan

Here’s a fun project to do with your kids, or with kids you babysit close to the holidays. It doesn’t take a lot of supplies, and it’s easy to do for all ages.
This is a fun craft kids can make to give away as gifts to parents, grandparents, teachers, or anyone.
It is also an easy craft to do with several kids. You can get several reindeer out of a full sheet of felt, and all of the supplies combined are quite inexpensive.

1 5” piece of brown felt
1 small red pom pom
1 sparkly gold pipe cleaner
2 small craft eyes
1 6” piece of ribbon

Cut the brown felt into a teardrop shape (about 4 inches long). This will be the reindeer’s head.
Cut two smaller pieces of felt (about 1/2 inch long) also in teardrop shapes for the ears.
Glue the ears onto the back of the head near the top of the larger end.
Cut the pipe cleaner into four equal pieces. Twist two pieces together in the center and bend three of the ends upward and one end down; do the same with the other two pieces.
Glue the pieces to the top of the back of the head for antlers.
Glue the eyes on just a bit below the ears.
Glue the pom pom on the tip of the teardrop for a nose.
Loop the ribbon and glue both ends to the back of the head between the antlers.
Let it dry completely before hanging.

Cayla Bitzan of Farwell is a 14-year-old student at Alexandria Area High School.

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Lion King nails

By Jessica Sly

A s the year draws to a close, we look back at everything that has happened. For a Disnerd (Disney nerd) like me, 2014 marked the 20th anniversary of the theatrical release of The Lion King (wow, that makes me feel old…).
To commemorate this epic event in Disney history, here’s some magical nail art. Hakuna matata!

*Let the polish dry between each step.
1. Apply a clear base coat and let dry.

2. Paint the whole nail with red polish and let dry.

NOTE: Do NOT apply steps 3 and 4 to your thumbs.

3. Apply some yellow-gold polish to a small cosmetic sponge and dab onto your four fingernails so that it forms a rising sun stretching across all of them.

4. Apply some orange polish to a new sponge and dab lightly over the yellow, starting darker at the base and lightening as you reach the top. This gives the sun a nice gradient look.

5. Paint a straight, thin black line over the nail tips to create the ground.

6. Apply black polish to the corner of a sponge and carefully dab a thin smudge in the middle of each nail for the tree tops.

7. Using a toothpick or thin nail art brush, draw lines connecting the ground and tree tops.

8. After the colors have dried completely, apply a top coat.

9. Use a cotton swab dipped in nail polish remover to clean up around your nails.

Jessica Sly of Alexandria is a writer/proofreader and has a passion for art of all kinds, whether it be music, writing, drawing or Disney.

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Knick-knack paddy whack . . . don’t give the dog a bone

By Dr. Florian Ledermann

With the holidays approaching and lots of company, food and gifts to share, there is always a temptation for someone to want to feed the host family dog the leftovers, including chicken bones, turkey bones, pork bones or ham bones.
Although bones have long been thought to be part of the primary diet of the dog, we know that they also can often result in serious complications for this favorite companion of the American family. The centuries of breeding dogs that we have domesticated probably makes the dog more prone to these conditions compared to those canine species that exist in the wild.
Because bones are composed primarily of calcium mineral, much of the bone is not very digestible, especially if consumed in large chunks or large amounts. A meal of left-over chicken or turkey bones after the family holiday meal can result in an impaction of the lower bowel that often is difficult to correct without surgery and can result in death. The sharp points of crushed bones (resulting from a dog’s powerful jaws) can also cause severe pain as the undigested bone passes through the intestinal tract.
Another less serious complication is the lodging of bones in the mouth and throat when the pet is trying to manipulate and swallow this hard object without chewing or crushing them. In some cases, general anesthesia is necessary to remove these bones safely.
So to avoid an emergency trip to the veterinarian during the holidays, be kind to the family pets and find safe treats meant for dogs during this time of year. Your dog wants to be part of the holiday celebration and loves the smell and taste of food we eat, but remember, they don’t think of the consequences when devouring our leftover bones.

Dr. Florian Ledermann retired after 43 years of veterinary practice. He enjoys innkeeping, grape growing/wine making and spending time with his 13 grandchildren.

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Christmas cookie creations

Serving a community with holiday baking

By Jessica Sly

Baking is a holiday staple. It gets the family together, fills the home with delicious aromas and, of course, results in yummy and creative treats.
But as people in today’s world continue to get busier and busier, they don’t always have time to indulge in holiday baking.
This is why Bonnie Praska, a food service manager at Luther Crest Bible Camp in Alexandria, provides an alternative. Each winter, she devotes several weeks to baking Christmas goodies for Luther Crest’s Christmas bake sale. From cookies to candies, Praska provides ready-made treats that community members can purchase.
Having helped out in the program for more than 10 years, Praska now completes a majority of the holiday baking with Sue Jahnke, hospitality manager, but she appreciates the help she receives from other staff and volunteers.
Praska grew up in Fergus Falls, and after she got married, she lived in Fargo, North Dakota. In 1988, Praska and her husband moved their family to Alexandria, and it didn’t take long for her to find her way to Luther Crest and its bake sale offerings.

How did you get involved with Luther Crest?
I worked in the nursing home and at the school district before coming to Luther Crest in 1992. A friend told me of the part-time position that was open. It started as part-time position, and it has become a full-time food service manager position.

When did you begin baking for Luther Crest?
I believe it was around 2003 that the former food service manager thought it might be a good idea to start making Christmas cookies as a fundraiser. I personally thought it would never take off; was I ever mistaken.

How much of the baking do you do?
Sue and I make the majority of all the cookies, breads, pies and candies, but we do get much appreciated and needed help from other staff members and volunteers. Without them it wouldn’t be possible.
Why is the program important to people during the holidays?
People are busy with their jobs, families and just can’t find the time to do it. I do think some order just because they are supporting Luther Crest. I also order my cookies for Christmas from here. I just don’t find the time or desire to do any baking at home, which I think is why this has gone so well.

What sorts of baked goods do you make?
We make a variety of cookies, cream cheese cut-outs, chocolate cherries, thumbprints, spritz, plain and dipped, peanut blossoms, cranberry hootycreeks and everyone’s favorite, the monster cookie. We also do assorted breads, banana, pumpkin, cranberry orange nut and caramel rolls. Along with that, we do candies and make up four-dozen and two-and-a-half-dozen assorted trays.

About how many cookies do you think you bake a year?
I am guessing around 100,000 a year. We make about 25,000 just for the Christmas bake sale.

What do you enjoy about baking at Luther Crest?
I have always enjoyed baking at Christmas time, but doing it at Luther Crest is a lot more enjoyable because of the equipment we have, the space to spread out and having the other staff helping.

What are your other interests or hobbies?
In my spare time, I like to spend time with my family and friends. In the summer, we do a lot of camping. In the winter, we are kind of homebodies.

Nominate your favorite extraordinary woman in Douglas County!
chiczmag@gmail.com or call 320.763.3133.

Jessica Sly of Alexandria is a writer/proofreader and has a passion for art of all kinds, whether it be music, writing, drawing or Disney.

Posted in Foodz, Holiday, Real Chicz of Douglas County | Leave a comment