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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Look stunning this school year

By Courtney Bitzan

This school year, liven up your wardrobe and make a good impression on your classmates and teachers. Here are some ideas to help you design the closet of your dreams:
PANTS: Patterned pants are a must this fall. Anything from zig-zag stripes to floral, patterned bottoms are trending. Step out of your comfort zone and try out some flashy shorts, pants or skirts. They are sure to make you feel a little bolder.
BOOTS: At least one pair of brown or black boots is necessary for a fall wardrobe. Boots can be worn with almost every fall outfit and they can be dressed up or down. They are chic but cozy, fancy and not over-the-top.
DRESSES: Wearing a dress to school may seem like a hassle, but it’s becoming more popular and dresses are worn more often on an everyday basis. Casual fall dresses are more comfortable than most outfits. Having a patterned dress and/or a plain-colored dress in your closet is a must. Pair it with a jean jacket and your boots, and you’re set to make some amazing impressions.
SWEATERS: This fall season calls for chunky knit sweaters, but not the itchy ones! You want to be comfortable at school, so find sweaters that are cute and cozy. Pair the stylish sweater with jeans and boots, and you have a classic fall outfit.
ACCESSORIES: Scarves, chunky necklaces and big watches are all trendy accessories for this school year. Knit infinity scarves can be paired with your favorite top. Layer chunky necklaces for a fashionable touch to any outfit, and add a watch with plenty of bling for an added pop.
You probably have plenty of these things hidden in the back of your closet, so get organized and style yourself with the trends this school year.

Courtney Bitzan of Farwell is an 18-year-old student, part-time writer and adventure

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Got a treasure? Stash it in a book safe!

By Jessica Sly

Do you like to read? Do you have lots of little knick-knacks that need a place to go?
Try making a book safe! It could be used for stashing items or as a carrying case for a phone, tablet or e-reader. (I made this safe for my Kindle.)
Here’s how:

1. Choose a book, preferably hardcover. Buy a unique book from a used book store or pick one of your books that you don’t mind cutting up.

2. Lay some newspaper over your work station. Open the front and back covers of the book and line with plastic wrap to protect the covers from glue.

3. Mix up a solution of 70 percent glue, 30 percent water. Holding the book tightly closed, brush the solution along the outside edges of all the pages.

4. Place something heavy on top of the book to prevent the pages from warping and let dry for about an hour.
5. Open up to the first page and draw a half-inch border around the pages using a ruler. (In my case, I traced my Kindle).

6. Use the knife to begin cutting along the drawn lines. Pull out the loose paper as you go. You may want to go back and clean up the corners every so often.

7. Once all of the pages have been cut, smooth the inside edges with sandpaper. (This step is optional.)

8. Line only the front cover with plastic wrap and paint the glue/water solution along the inside of the hollowed out pages. Then glue the pages to the back cover.

9. Place something heavy on the book again and let dry for a couple hours.

10. Stash some belongings inside and hide it among your other books!

Bonus: I added an elastic band to keep my safe shut and to keep my Kindle secured. You could also line the inside with some felt or velvet to give it a polished look.

New or used book you don’t mind cutting up
Utility knife or box cutter
Paint brush
Plastic wrap
Something heavy, such as a stack of books

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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Me thyme

By Crystal Dey

Take a moment in time to experience a perfect pairing of pears and thyme in an autumn infusion. Usually apple is the featured fall drink, but this season, the fruit is sharing the spotlight with another fleshy pome – the pear. A hint of orange adds zip to this festive fizz.

Serves 6
1 ripe, firm pear
2 cups apple juice
Thyme sprigs
1/4 cup orange extract
1 bottle sparkling pear juice

Slice pear thinly and place in a pitcher. Add apple juice, a dozen thyme sprigs and orange extract. Imitation orange extract can be used to create a completely non-alcoholic drink; this recipe used Nielsen-Massey Orange Blossom Water. Refrigerate mixture for 4 hours to allow pears and thyme to infuse juice.
Divide liquid between champagne flutes. Top with sparkling juice. Kristian Regale pear-flavored sparkling juice was used to top the Me Thyme Parody pictured.

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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Five tips for appreciating a good glass of vino

By Al Edenloff

If you’re looking for a way to “de-stress” after a hectic work week, try a glass or two of wine.
Now we’re not suggesting that you start gulping through entire bottles by yourself.
The key here is moderation.
And to relax, take your time to fully appreciate the flavors and effort that went into transforming all those beautiful grapes into a pleasurable experience.
Here are five tips for enjoying your next glass of wine.

1. Get the wine ready. If you don’t have a wine refrigerator, most reds will need only a quick chill in a regular fridge, 30 or 40 minutes. Lighter bodied white wines will take much longer, about two and half hours. If you don’t have that kind of time, try the bucket and ice method. This will only take 10 minutes to bring whites down to the 45-degree temp you’re looking for. Reds, assuming they’re at room temperature to start, will need only a couple minutes to get to 55 or 60 degrees.
2. Set the mood. Tidy up the dining room, the deck or wherever you’ll be sipping. You want the focus to be on the wine or the special someone you’re with. Put on some of your favorite music. Blues or jazz are a great complement.

3. Open two bottles at the same time and serve in different glasses. It’s easier on the taste buds to go with either two reds or two whites. Having two different types of wine makes for interesting comparisons. Which one goes better with the food you’re having? Which one has the longest finish? Which one has the deepest bouquet? If you’re enjoying the wine with someone, try a secret taste test. Whoever pours can challenge the other person to guess which wine is which.

4. Drink water. Have a glass of ice water ready to sip while you’re switching from wine to wine or from food to food. This will not only clear your tastebuds, it will help you stay hydrated and healthy.

5. Slow down and enjoy. Breathe in the wine’s bouquet. Take a small sip, let the wine linger on your tongue. Identify your first impressions and subtle accents. Breathe, relax and take another slow sip. Let those feelings of stress and tension take a back seat for a bit. Close your eyes. Imagine you’re in the vineyard where the grapes were harvested. There, that’s better.

Three California reds great for relaxing:
Apothic Red, a blend of zinfandel with syrah, merlot and cabernet sauvignon.
Mark West Pinot Noir, with notes of black cherry, cola, strawberry, plum and soft tannins.
Coppola Diamond Claret, Cabernet-based and better with food, it has accents of wild berries, plum and anise.

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Desserts for one

By Lori Mork

Do you ever just NEED something sweet but don’t want to end up with an entire dessert in your home? Here are a few single-serve desserts for those times you wish to indulge.

Single Serving Deep Dish
Chocolate Chip Cookie

2 Tbsp. unsalted butter
1 Tbsp. granulated sugar
1 Tbsp. brown sugar
Drop or two of vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp. semisweet chocolate chips
Vanilla ice cream, for serving

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Have one 6-ounce ceramic ramekin ready. If you use a different size or different type of ramekin, it could affect the texture of the cookie.
In a medium microwavable bowl, melt the butter. Whisk in both sugars and vanilla for at least 1 minute (whisk together thoroughly or the cookie will be grainy when it finishes baking). Whisk in salt, baking soda, and flour. Whisk in the chocolate chips.
Pour the batter into the ramekin. Bake 15-18 minutes or until the top is firm and brown.
Let cool for a few minutes before serving with ice cream.

Single Serving Apple Crisp

1 small apple, peeled and cored
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
2 Tbsp. oats
1 1/2 Tbsp. flour
1/4 tsp. cinnamon
1 Tbsp. butter

Thinly slice the apple and place in a mixing bowl. Add 1 Tbsp. brown sugar, 1/2 Tbsp. flour and 1/8 tsp. cinnamon. Coat the apples with the dry ingredients and place in a small baking dish.
Mix together the rest of the dry ingredients and the butter; put on top of the apples.
Microwave for 60-90 seconds.

3-2-1 Cake

This recipe is called 3-2-1 Cake because all you need to remember is 3 Tbsp. mix, 2 Tbsp. water and 1 minute in the microwave.

1 box Angel Food cake mix
1 box any flavor cake mix
2 Tbsp. water

Mix the 2 cake mixes together in a gallon zip-lock bag.
To make the cake:
Take 3 Tbsp. of the cake mix; mix with 2 Tbsp. of water. Mix together and microwave for 1 minute. Let rest for 15 minutes and serve with toppings, such as fruit, whipped cream, chocolate.
You can use any flavor of boxed cake mix – Red Velvet, Chocolate, Spice, Banana, Strawberry, etc.
Store the remaining dry mix in a tightly sealed airtight container.

Nutella Mug Cake

4 Tbsp. self-rising flour
4 Tbsp. sugar
1 egg
3 Tbsp. cocoa powder
3 Tbsp. Nutella
3 Tbsp. milk
3 Tbsp. vegetable oil
Whipped cream for topping, if desired.

Combine all ingredients in a large coffee mug and whisk well with a fork until smooth.
Microwave on high for 1 1/2 to 3 minutes. (Time depends on microwave.)
Top mug cake with whipped cream and a little chocolate sauce, if desired.

XXL dark chocolate
AND sea salt brownie cookie

1 egg
1 1/2 Tbsp. coconut oil
1 Tbsp. nut butter – peanut or almond
Dash of vanilla
2 Tbsp. pure maple syrup
1/4 cup flour
2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
1/2 tsp. baking powder
Pinch of sea salt
1 square 70 percent cocoa dark chocolate, roughly chopped

Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a small bowl, combine egg, coconut oil, nut butter, vanilla and maple syrup. Add flour, cocoa powder, baking powder and sea salt.
Transfer to prepared baking sheet and form into a disk. Press dark chocolate chunks onto the top of the cookie and sprinkle with sea salt.
Bake for 10-15 minutes.

Mini No-bake
Lemon Cheesecakes

2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1/2 cup graham cracker crumbs
1 tsp. cinnamon
3/4 cup cream cheese
1 Tbsp. lemon juice
1 tsp. vanilla
Yellow food coloring (optional)
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. white sugar

First, prepare the crust by combining the graham cracker crumbs, butter and cinnamon with a fork. Press into two small ramekins and set aside.
Make the cheesecake filling by whipping the cream cheese, lemon juice, sugars and vanilla. Add in the yellow food coloring drop by drop until you get the desired color.
Pour filling into ramekins. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least an hour.
Serves two.

Strawberry Apple Almond Crisp


1/2 large apple, chopped into chunks
3/4 cup strawberries, fresh or frozen
4 1/2 Tbsp. almond flour
Small handful of almonds, roughly chopped
2 Tbsp. quick cooking oats
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp. dark brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp. milk
1/2 Tbsp. honey


In a small bowl, combine the oats, almond flour, almonds, cinnamon, and dark brown sugar. Add milk and honey and mix with a fork until a crumble forms.
Place apples and strawberries in a microwave-safe bowl and top with crumble mixture. Microwave on high heat for 2-3 minutes – time will vary for each microwave.

Red Velvet Mug Cake

For the cake:
4 Tbsp. flour
4 1/2 Tbsp. sugar
1/8 tsp. baking powder
1 1/2 Tbsp. unsweetened cocoa powder
3 Tbsp. oil
3 Tbsp. buttermilk
1 egg
1/2 tsp. red food coloring

For the frosting:
2 Tbsp. cream cheese
2 Tbsp. butter
1/2 cup sugar

Mix all the ingredients together into an oversized mug using a fork or small whisk until batter is smooth. Cook in microwave for about 1-1/2 minutes. It might need an additional 30 seconds. Be careful not to overcook as batter will become dense and rubbery.
Let cake cool slightly before piping frosting. For frosting, combine all ingredients into a mixing bowl and mix on high speed until light and fluffy. Pipe onto cake.
Serves 1-2.


Single serving
Monkey Bread

1 Tbsp. butter
1 Tbsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. cinnamon
1/4 tsp. vanilla
1/2 cup frozen bread dough (briefly thawed at room temperature) or pizza dough

Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees.
In a small ovenproof dish (ramekin or custard cup), melt the butter in the microwave for 30 seconds. Stir in the sugar, cinnamon and vanilla.
Divide the dough into eight pieces (easiest if done with a knife). Roll into small balls and toss with the butter-sugar mixture until coated.
Bake in ovenproof dish 10-12 minutes, until puffed and golden. Eat warm.

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Tips for fall mums

By Karla Mikkelson

Also known as: Chrysanthemums

Botanical name: Dendranthema x grandiflora.

Available in: Many colors, sizes and shapes.

Maintenance: Low maintenance. Keep in containers or grow in beds. Drought resistant and generally disease-free.

Planting: Late August to September. Full sun preferred. Half day of sun or more, in well-drained soil. Poor drainage causes winter mortality.

Watering: After planting, water every other day. Don’t allow leaves to wilt.
Wintering: If it’s in a pot, after a hard frost, where leaves have turned brown, bring it into an unheated garage or shed and cut it back to one inch above soil. Be sure soil is moist. Old newspapers around the pot, dropped into a larger pot work well for extra winter temperature protection.
If it’s in a garden, cut it way back to one inch, and cover with 6-10 inches of mulch or 12-18 inches of leaves.

Spring pinching: Uncover in spring. Remove any dry growth. Pinch back 1-2 inches each time the plant grows 3 to 5 inches up until July 4. This helps ensure a compact bush filled with blooms in fall.

Fertilizer: Feed monthly until August, once each month before flowering.

Karla Mikkelson is a graphic artist and jewelry
designer in Alexandria.

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Mealtime in no time!

By Marsha Franzen

Check out all the new technology in ranges and ovens, making cooking and baking a lot easier, faster and more fun!

DOUBLE OVEN RANGES: Both ovens are big enough to cook up to a 28-pound turkey or multiple dishes at different temperatures for maximum cooking flexibility. Or, if you are baking just one item, use one oven to save energy by not heating up the whole oven. An added feature is quick preheat.

True convection oven: Convection ovens have been around since the 1950s and have become extremely popular in recent years. They are especially helpful for those with busy lifestyles, as they bake 30 percent faster. Convection ovens are built with fans in the back of the oven, which circulate the air around the oven, promoting rapid and more even multi-rack heating. You could bake three racks of cookies at the same time, at a lower oven temperature and less cooking time.

Induction: Induction technology offers electric cooktops an easy-to clean surface that delivers 50 percent faster than gas. Energy from this magnetic field penetrates cookware, interacting with the metal pan. Cookware immediately becomes hot and heats the food inside. It is very efficient and will boil water in 90 seconds.
And since induction only transfers heat to the magnetic cookware, spills don’t bake on to the surface.

AquaLift self clean: The new AquaLift self-clean technology simplifies and shortens the self-cleaning process, making it easy and simple. It saves time, as it is 68 percent faster than a traditional self-clean oven. The cycle only takes 50 minutes instead of the traditional time of 3-6 hours. Plus, only heats up to 200F not the 800F, which heats up the whole house. Another added feature is there is no odor when cleaning the oven, so there’s no need to leave the house or open windows, which makes it easy to clean anytime.

Marsha Franzen is in appliance sales at Cullen’s Home Center.

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Turn your home into a personal sanctuary

By Lori Mork

Each day, our lives seem a little more hectic, making us long for the comfort of our homes. Here are a few ideas to help turn your home into a personal sanctuary:

CALM HIDEAWAYS. Create a quiet corner where you can sneak away to pamper yourself with a good book, meditate or simply wind down from the day. Whether it’s an entire room, or just a small corner of a larger room, find a way to put some space between yourself and the rest of the house.

PERSONALIZE IT. Bring some meaning to your space with a special object, possibly a reading chair, a writing desk or maybe a soft rug, making it the basis of your space.

Keep it cozy. Select your furnishings to fit the size of your space, especially if that space is limited.

Not too much. Feel free to add some special treasures, but keep them to a minimum to prevent clutter. You can always change your accents with the seasons.

Cushion out the noise. Use accessories in your space that help mute or absorb sound, such as an upholstered chair or pillows.

Create boundaries. You can establish privacy by using moveable screen, possibly with fabric or rice paper panels, to allow for more light.
Storage. A tall bookcase can serve two functions – storage and privacy. Just angle it to create a partition and use it for storage.

Living mood brighteners. Include live plants in your domain to freshen the air and uplift your spirits.

Soothing sounds. A tabletop water fountain or music from a small audio system can help set a serene mood.

Choose color wisely. Use neutral tones for relaxation, adding just one or two focal points. Vibrant colors and patterns are best if you’re looking for an energy boost.

Key lighting. If you are working on crafts, add plenty of light. You can also use a spotlight on a painting to give a dramatic flair.

Contrasting texture. With a small space, texture is important. Select natural material – wood and stone – and add materials made with natural fabrics. Then contrast with colorful silk or rough sea grass.

Bring yourself. Inspiring quotes or your own photographs or works on the walls can be the spark to your creativity or relaxation.

This is yours. There are no rules when it comes to your own space. Make it uniquely yours in whatever way makes you happy.

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

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Wild animals don’t always make good pets

By Dr. Florian Ledermann

This time of year, it is not unusual to find injured or abandoned wild animals in our yards or fields near our dwellings. These animals are subject to the same risks that humans are in their quest for survival.
These situations always present us with decisions as to what we should do to solve their dilemma.
First off, our diagnosis of “abandonment or injury” must be done with caution before attempting to move the bird or animal. I, as a veterinarian, found that many times, humans intervened too soon in an effort to rescue these creatures.
Fledgling birds and young animals that are beginning their separation from their parents can bring us to believe that by intervening, we are helping the youngsters to survive. Most often, we are better off not touching or moving them, as the chances of survival go down dramatically from the stress of handling.
Obviously, if injury is very evident, the finder should seek veterinary care, as they are equipped to help the injured in many cases. Since funds for this care are not readily available, the finder is usually responsible for the caring costs. In the case of birds of prey, the University of Minnesota Raptor Center is a nationally recognized source of care.
There are still a lot of rescued or captured wild animals and birds that are kept as pets, which is usually not a good idea. These creatures are adapted to living in the wild and many times do not do well in captivity.
In addition, there are often human health risks to keeping these animals in close contact with people. A case in point, pet skunks present a high risk of rabies for humans because of the carrier state in these animals. Many localities and states make it illegal to keep skunks.
Birds can be carriers of Salmonella and respiratory diseases that are risky for human health. Wild birds that are captured in foreign countries and imported to the states should make us think twice about purchase for our enjoyment.
For advice concerning wild animal situations, contact your veterinarian, local humane society or the Department of Natural Resources for help.

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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A guyz perspective: The chores can wait

By Eric Morken

A light breeze and warm, sunny skies made for a perfect day for baseball on May 27.
Osakis had one of the better teams in the area this spring and opened up the section playoffs that day. My wife was working her own 12-hour shift, which meant I was responsible for our 17-month-old daughter.
With our schedules, it’s impossible for work not to conflict with parenting duties, so I fed Aubree early and brought her to the ballpark. She entertained the nearby fans through the first three innings by smiling at them and screaming “ball” with a few of the pitches.
By about the fourth inning, she was ready for a nap. I try to keep book, take pictures and tweet updates at all the games, but doing all that while keeping Aubree from crying proved to be a futile task.
The last few innings were spent rocking back and forth with her resting on my shoulder. She closed her eyes and fell asleep until I conducted my post-game interviews with her in one arm and my recorder in the other hand.
Finding ways to balance parenting, work and responsibilities around the house have been the biggest challenge since Aubree was born.
There is always something to do. The lawn takes four hours to mow. The shingles need replacing, the deck needs staining and the roof on the porch leaks every time we have a soaking rain.
Then there are the trees. Those beautiful trees that we loved so much about our property when we looked into buying three summers ago – now they seem like a constant chore with branches falling after every storm and leaves everywhere in the fall.
House cleaning and doing laundry gets put on the backburner as both Mali and I try to fit everything in. I’m guessing that sounds familiar to most parents out there.
With one moment, though, we are reminded why all those household chores can wait. The morning after I took Aubree to the baseball game, I was half asleep in bed and waiting for her to start crying through the monitor.
Instead, I heard her move around in her crib before calling for me – “Dada, Dada.” I went upstairs to her room and picked her up as she laid her head on my shoulder. Just like that, I remembered why I wouldn’t change anything, no matter how busy life gets.

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

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