BY NIKKI MEYER
There is no doubt that social media has radically transformed the way we live. You can now learn almost anything about anyone anywhere. You can also be inspired and learn how to make just about anything from anyone anywhere. That’s exactly what happened to Truman resident Calli Rode.
“I was just scrolling through Facebook and I saw videos of people decorating cookies. I thought I could do that. I’m going to do that. Let’s do that. Why not?” And that’s exactly what she started doing.
Calli said she’s always enjoyed baking cookies. Though an accountant for A&E Construction in Mankato by day, her new side business is also a fun hobby she can enjoy at home with her young daughter, Kambria, who willingly helps Calli test out her recipes and dispose of any extra cookies.
Calli’s adventure began in July of this year. After her initial thoughts of I wish we had something around here like that were followed up with Why don’t I do it?, Calli started doing her research. She tested out recipes, looking for the perfect sugar cookie to use as her base. She needed one that would be firm enough and hold up well, but also taste delicious. After she perfected that first recipe, she began experimenting with others such as chocolate chip and pumpkin spice.
She also needed to find the right types of icing—the star of the cookie. “I mainly use a royal icing. It dries hard, but not too hard. It has a nice soft crunch.”
One she figured out her recipes, she had to learn how to actually make the gorgeous-looking cookies she’d seen in the videos. “There was a lot of reading. Reading up on the techniques on how to do it... What works, what doesn’t work. I did a lot of reading about other people’s experiences.”
Then there was the practice. Creating a gorgeous-looking cookie is no easy feat, and Calli’s cookies show off a wide variety of techniques. First, the cookie needs a base layer—an even coating of icing that goes all the way to the edge of the cookie without running down the sides. Sometimes the base layer is a single color or several single colors, and other times getting the desired colors on the base layer takes a little more effort. “Thin icing similar to honey consistency for the base of the cookie. You start with outlining it first and then fill it in,” Callie said. She has done leaf cookies with a beautiful base of marbled reds, yellows and oranges. She’s also done snow-white mittens with a delicate gray zig-zag pattern running along the tops, a multi-colored feathers on a turkey's tail—a feat which is accomplished with the help of a toothpick and must be done quickly before the icing sets too firmly.
Other cookies require a textured base layer, such as to create the ridges in a pumpkin.
Once the base layer has been created, it needs to dry before Calli can add any additional layers. And that happens after Calli first makes the dough, chills the dough, rolls it out and cuts the shapes, bakes the cookies, and then cools the cookies enough to decorate them. The entire process takes a few days, depending on how complex the decorations are and how many layers are required.
After the base layer is dry, the cookie is ready for any additional icing it may need. “I use a thicker, toothpaste consistency for writing and details, and a very thick icing that holds it shape for flowers and leaves,” Calli stated. “For swirls and things like that, one way to make them is to paint or splatter thinned down food coloring or use an edible food paint on the cookie.” Her attention to detail is impeccable.
Calli has been slowly, or not so slowly, building her library of tools. She quickly bought a large 100-piece cookie cutter set that offered a wide variety of options, and she’s been adding more as customer requests necessitate them. “I feel like if somebody wants a cookie shape that I don’t have, I need to get it.” Of course, as any hobbyist knows, the temptation to grow the tools of your trade as fast as possible is very real. Calli laughed, “Sometimes, it’s like, Let’s buy all the cutters! ...They’re only $5!” Calli also shared that, while she hasn’t done it yet, it’s also very easy to find companies who will make a custom cutter with a 3D printer.
Part of her decorating arsenal also includes a projector. “I can use a cookie trick—it’s a mini projector that projects the image on the cookie and then you use that as a guide... On cookies where I’m doing a logo and they need to look exactly like the logo it’s best to have that kind of guide to make sure every one is the same.” Other times she is able to simply free-hand her decorations, still achieving a beautiful uniform look.
There is no uniform process for ordering cookies, Calli said. Sometimes customers bring her a picture and ask if she can replicate it, and other times they just give her a general theme and tell her to go for it. “If they want a specific thing, I’ll let them know what I’m capable of. But if they tell me Do whatever you want, that’s also really cool because I get to do something fun and original.”
She also works with customers to determine their budget and then maps out their cookies accordingly. “They are kind of expensive because of the amount of labor and time that goes into them. If you want something simple that would be a lower budget, but if you want something higher we can do that too. We talk about theme, quantity and budget.” Her base price is $24 a dozen. The sets that take her eight hours to complete have a higher price tag.
While the extra income is nice, Calli said that her time making cookies is also much-needed personal time. “I think it’s kind of relaxing. You’re just in your own little world and I’m only focusing on one thing. I’m not worrying about the laundry or whatever comes next.” She does limit the number of cookies she’ll make in a week, however, as she knows life—namely her daughter—still requires her time and attention. “I’m still a single parent working full-time. Any more than four to six dozen a week and I start to go a little crazy.” Calli also noted that she is limited in how many cookies she can sell out of her house based on Minnesota Cottage Laws.
To see more of Calli’s amazing cook creations, visit her Calli’s Cookies page on Facebook. You can also email her at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information on ordering.
The Brummond family together after receiving the news that they will be traveling to Paris.
BY NIKKI MEYER
On December 1, 2018 Holly Brummond posted on her Facebook page: As some great friends blessed me with kind words and gifts today it got me thinking about how grateful I am! I don’t think a day has gone by since my first diagnosis, 4 years 8 months and 1 day ago, that I haven’t had a vast array of things to be thankful for! One of the greatest gifts God has given me is the ability to take in the bad news and then move on to enjoying every minute I can with those around me that I love! (And that’s a whole lotta people).
When she posted that, Holly had no idea of one of the gifts that was yet to come.
Profinium began their Achieving Dreams Together program as a way to lend a helping hand to those who could use one, especially at Christmas time. The financial institution partners with generous
local businesses, and together they are able to impact those nominated by creating life changing moments. In the first two years more than 300 nominations were received and over $50,000 was awarded.
This year, Profinium took things to the next level.
“We had 18 people nominate [Holly],” said Nicole Krumwiede, business banking assistant at Profinium in Truman. Having just completed their third annual Achieving Dreams Together program, Profinium has not had another person receive as many nominations as Holly did. “People were still nominating [her] after the deadline.” Krumwiede stated.
Holly was called and asked to come in to the bank at 9:00 a.m. on Thursday, December 13 under the guise of needing to sign some paperwork. When she arrived, she got more than she bargained for.
Krumwiede met her in the lobby and explained why she was really there. “You were brought in today because a whole big group of people care about you. Have you heard of the Achieving Dreams program before?” Krumwiede asked Brummond. “I nominated someone for it once,” Brummond responded, eyeing the tv camera just a few feet away. As nearly a dozen people emerged from the break room, Holly was told that she had been nominated and chosen.
“Our heart goes out to you,” said Dawn Hendricksen, a family friend. “It’s been a long, long time. You need to have enjoyment and memories. There’s a lot of love here for you.”
“I feel that. Every day I feel that,” Brummond said through tears. “I’m so blessed.”
“One of the reasons I nominated Holly is that through her entire journey she has been brave. So brave that she has never asked for anything for herself,” said co-worker Tami West-Lobato. “She hasn’t asked for time off, people to work her shift, people to take care of things for her—she’s done it all her own and she’s done it with John and Ainsley in mind. And others! She cares for others all the time and never really herself, so she so deserves this. And through it all she’s maintained her faith.”
Finally, Krumwiede got to tell Holly exactly what she was receiving. “We are sending you, your husband John, and your daughter Ainsley to Paris for five days and four nights.”
“I don’t know what to say because I don’t feel like I do anything to deserve all the support I get,” Brummond managed through tears, “and I get so much support. I feel loved and blessed every day. Cancer sucks, but it’s brought so many good things to my life. I hope you all know how much I love and appreciate you.”
Holly’s 14-year-old daughter Ainsley and her husband John were among the supporters present for the announcement. “They are what I live for. They are what I live for every day. What I fight for. It means a lot.”
One of Holly’s biggest goals at this point is making all the memories she possibly can with her daughter. She has dreamed of going to Paris with Ainsley and John for a long time.“I told John that we are going to Paris,” Holly stated. The diagnosis of ovaian cancer that she first received almost five years ago has taken a turn for the worst and in November was deemed terminal. “Even if we have to put it on a credit card and pay for it with my life insurance, we’re going.”
Profinium, in partnership with their employees—especially those at the Truman location, will be taking care of all of the family’s travel and lodging expenses. And, thanks to the Travel and Cruise Center in Mankato, the family will get to visit all of the world-class sites in Paris, including places like the Eiffel Tower and the Louvre. It will truly be the trip of a lifetime, and one that will help a special family achieve their dream.
Holly concluded in her December 1 Facebook post: I just want to thank you all for each day that I feel your love and support! I often hear “you always have a smile on your face.” Well, first of all I don’t always have a smile but it’s hard not to smile when you are surrounded by love! I don’t know what God has in store and I pray that the timeline my oncologist guessed is wrong or that a miracle happens but what I do know is that with the time I have left (however many months or years that may be) I am so thankful to be given a community that lifts me up and fills me with love! Merry Christmas my friends and may you all be as blessed as I am!
From House of Worship to Housing Units: New Owner of former Catholic Church Building Working on Creating Apartments
View of the former sanctuary from John Barrett's current bedroom.
BY NIKKI MEYER
The “For Sale” sign in front of the former St. Katherine’s Catholic Church Building is gone. The building has a new owner.
Having an entrepreneurial eye, when John Barrett saw the building for sale, he saw an opportunity. Though based out of South Dakota, Barrett’s “day job” is in the drain tile business, selling for a company based out of Westfield, IA. The job allows him considerable flexibility, and he does some work on the side running a used equipment business and traveling around in his motorhome. Now, he also intends to be in the business of owning and renting apartments.
“I’ve always colored outside the lines. I’ve wanted a church for a long, long time I just never found one that was suitable or that was priced in a range I could afford. When this opportunity presented itself my mind started working with all the possibilities,” Barrett said.
Originally Barrett had planned to set up living spaces inside the church and erect a commercial storage building/work shop on the grounds outside to house some of his equipment. “I have a small fleet of equipment... I want to be a good neighbor... My plan was to build a cold frame building and then keep everything under cover.” Having learned that the portion of his property he was going to build on is zoned residential, he is now changing his plans. “I’m probably going to end up just putting more residential units on that [parking lot] property.”
Inside Barrett has been busy outfitting the building with additional insulation and more energy efficient light fixtures. “It’s an absolutely beautiful building,” Barrett said. “It’s well built.” His intentions are to end up with two 860 square foot two-bedroom apartments in the former sanctuary and an additional space for his own belongings or to eventually rent out as a third apartment.
Barrett is staying in the building for now while he works on it. The loft room that overlooks the former sanctuary is serving as his bedroom. It’s certainly a room with a view, overlooking the natural light-filled sanctuary with its tall, stately wooden ceiling.
In the large, round window that faces west, he’s hung a Christmas wreath. “It’s about a six-foot window,” Barrett said. “I thought it would be fun, so I got a four-foot wreath to hang in it... It took me a while to find it.”
Sharing the large space with him is his little black Snoodle, Boo.
Barrett said he’s enjoyed his time in Truman so far, commenting on the welcoming people he’s met in town. In the month he’s been here, he’s already gotten to know many of them by name.
Barrett is also renting the two buildings directly south of BoeKett, on the east side of the highway. He hopes to buy them in the future. He’s made it clear that he doesn’t intend to just make money from the community without investing anything back into it. “I did my homework before I bought this property,” Barrett said, discussing population trends in Truman. “I’m wondering... what can the city do to modify it’s long-term thoughts and processes to make this community more desirable?” He hopes that quality rental housing and another business on the highway will be a positive addition to the town.
BY NIKKI MEYER
The heart. A muscle we rarely think about. And yet, it begins working long before we are ever born, and it continues working—every second of every day—until we take our final breath. It works without our permission, without our conscious direction, and without much thought at all on our part.
That is, unless your heart doesn't function the way it should. Then, you think about it a lot.
Vlad and Logan Aksenov think about a heart beating every single day. Usually many times a day. Their two-year old daughter, Alaina, is among those whose heart didn't quite form right. Hers doesn't pump blood as efficiently as it should. That means that oxygen isn't being delivered in her body as well as it should be. Fluid can back up in the lungs and other tissues.
Alaina has already had numerous open-heart surgeries. Just this summer, her cardiologists in Omaha, Nebraska performed a surgery to try and help increase the output abilities of her heart. Hearts that size are small. Surgeries of that sort are tricky. Complications ensued, and Alaina spent nearly a month in the hospital.
Around the time Alaina was finally able to return home to Welcome, her parents welcomed her baby brother, Evan, to the family.
Despite her previous complications, Alaina was doing well upon returning home. However, at the beginning of October, she started getting groggy and refusing to eat. She just wasn't herself. As any parent of a child with health issues knows, brushing off out-of-the-ordinary behavior as a minor incident is almost impossible. Vlad and Logan took her to a cardiologist is Sioux Falls.
Heart failure. The words that buzzed around Vlad and Logan's head for days. At only two-years-old, their baby girl was diagnosed with heart failure.
Alaina was put on several medications and kept in Sioux Falls for several days to stabilize before returning home. The Askenov's were told that the doctors would discuss her case at an upcoming cardiology conference on Monday, October 15 in order to determine the next steps.
Just a few days before the conference was to take place. Alaina took a turn for the worse. She was airlifted to Omaha where a 2x3cm blood clot was discovered in her heart. Her small, toddler heart that is not strong enough to withstand the surgery to remove the clot. She likely would not survive coming off by necessary bypass machine. Alaina was instead put in a heparin drip to help clear the clot while her cardiologists wait for her condition to improve in order to determine what comes next.
While Vlad and Logan are fortunate enough to have full-time jobs—Logan is a nurse manager with Prairie River Home Care and Vlad a truck driver for British Petroleum—the costs for traveling, lodging, time off for medical appointments and hospital stays, and medical bills are adding up at an alarming rate.
A benefit for the family has been organized and will take place on Sunday, December 9 at the Eagles Club in Fairmont from 11 a.m. - 2 p.m. The menu includes a hog roast and a silent auction will be held. Contact Shae Pierson at email@example.com for more information or to make a donation.