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8/19/14 - Every customer who visits the Sawbill store know that we have some pretty cool and unique merchandise

Sawbill Newsletter - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 9:44pm

8/19/14 - Every customer who visits the Sawbill store knows that we have some pretty cool and unique merchandise, but now the Facebook community knows it too! A fan of the Red Cup Living products we sell recently visited the store and was so excited by our stock that she took a picture and sent it to the company. The photo got posted on the Facebook page of Red Cup Living, so now all their fans know where to find us! - Britta

The lovely photo that one of our customers sent in to Red Cup Living.

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Minnesota Canoeing

Boundary Waters Blog - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 5:30pm

Here’s a place for you to paddle if you live in Central Minnesota. Clear Waters Outfitting is owned by Mike’s first cousin Sandra and her husband Dan. Mike has been helping with their business since they started and still helps out when he can.  We’ve paddled a section of the river and had a great time. It’s not the Boundary Waters but it’s not a 6 hour drive from the Twin Cities either.  If you have time for a paddle then be sure to check Clear Waters out.

CLEARWATER, Minn. (WCCO) – The Mississippi is a powerful river spanning more than 2,000 miles. But there’s one stretch, not far from the metro, that’s shallow and peaceful enough to attract canoeists, paddle boarders and kayakers.

It’s a wide section between St. Cloud and Anoka that’s been designated “wild and scenic” by the DNR.   That means no one can put up new buildings or cut down trees along the shoreline.

It’s where Dan Meer and his family started their company, Clear Waters Outfitting, five years ago.

“Right here, it’s probably only about three, four feet deep,” Meer said. “But you can definitely see to the bottom.”

It’s a lush, green view that Meer appreciates probably more than most because of where he was ten years ago, patrolling parts of Iraq with the National Guard.

“Definitely an eye-opener to see the poverty and the things that go on in some other countries,” he said. “And it really made me realize how good we have it here in the U.S.”

But then he returned from his deployment to a struggling economy and a stressful job in the printing industry.

“After coming back from Iraq, I really started reevaluating what I was doing,” he said. “Plus the recession was in place.”

And that’s how CW Outfitting was born, a chance for the Meer family to get control in their lives, and help others at the same time.

“We just want to send people out to relax and have a good time, and get away from their normal busy lives,” Meer’s wife, Sandra, said.

“We do this for the love of the outdoors,” Meer said. “We’ve been very fortunate to find just a gorgeous stretch of river that we can share with people.”

They set up trips of anywhere from eight to 13 miles, on paddle boards, canoes and kayaks.

This week, Mark Arrington of Maple Grove, Minn. took an afternoon to kayak the Mississippi with his daughter and son.

“There’s some stretches where you see nothing but trees and wilderness, and it’s really pleasant,” Arrington said. “It’s not paddling in the city.”

“One group, I think the biggest count of eagles was 12 eagles in one trip,” said Meer. “People see deer, all sorts of wildlife.”

He could’ve made more money, sticking it out through the stresses of corporate life, but he has a new perspective on what’s important.

“It’s not money, and it’s not fame and all that stuff,” he said. “It’s all about people and just having fun in life.”

Meer said that section of river is also great for fishing. And on September 27th, they’ll host their first small-mouth bass fishing tournament.



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Pop-Up Sidewalk Update: Fine Tuning a Pop-up

Moving Matters - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 11:57am

In response to feedback over the weekend, the City fine tuned the pop-up to allow for both parking and the temporary sidewalk by creating a buffer between the two areas with barricades. It is a great example of the pop-up process, which is designed to be flexible and change as feedback is received. It also illustrates the importance of sharing the space for vehicles and people walking in our tourist town. Many questions remain that the pop-up may provide information on: Is the temporary sidewalk being used? Does a sidewalk on the west side of the road reduce people walking in the road?  Are there more people walking on the east side of the road? Is a sidewalk needed or wanted in this area?…. Keep the feedback coming, through the blog comments, on Facebook, or email  This process is all about community input to understand how public spaces can best serve the people.

What the heck is a “pop-up”?
A “pop-up” is a temporary, low-cost project to try out a new use for a space without investing in major infrastructure changes and cost.  Think of it this way, pop-up = temporary.

Why a pop-up sidewalk in Boulder Park?
The goal of the temporary/pop-up sidewalk near Boulder Park is to give people a place off of the road to walk. This way, the City can gather feedback from visitors, residents, and businesses to see what the needs are and what might work to address the safety issue of people and vehicles on the street.  The area near Boulder Park, Sydney’s, and Artist’s Point is known for a lot of foot and vehicle traffic, spectacular harbor views, and popular businesses. Whether or not a change is needed is up in the air, but most agree that there is a conflict between vehicles and people walking in the roadway.

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Be Bold

Aging Youthful - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 10:45am

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What’s REALLY In Our Food: “Exploding” Soy Protein?

Aging Youthful - Tue, 08/19/2014 - 1:00am

I LOVE my IsaLean protein bars, not only for the taste, but for the natural ingredients that are in the bars. They are a “processed” food and do contain a higher amount of natural sugars, I have to be careful to not rely on them for my food, as I am suspecting I have a fructose sensitivity (yep, even the natural kind found in fruit). I am so grateful our company does not use soy protein in any of their products becasuse it is NOT the health food we’ve been told it is. From the Natural News Website:

Virtually all “protein bars” on the market today are made with soy protein. Many infant formula products are also made with soy protein, and thousands of vegetarian products (veggie burgers, veggie cheese, “natural” food bars, etc.) are made with soy protein. That soy protein is almost always described as safe and “natural” by the companies using it. But there’s a dirty little secret the soy product industry doesn’t want you to know: Much of the “natural” soy protein used in foods today is bathed in a toxic, explosive chemical solvent known as hexane. Click here for the full article….



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Voyageur Brewing Company Makes Front Page News

Boundary Waters Blog - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 7:49pm

We’re super excited to see an article about the Voyageur Brewery on the front page of the Sunday Duluth News Tribune.  It’s been fun to see the progress being made on the tap room each time I go to Grand Marais. It will be even more fun when the building is done and we’re actually brewing. It will be awhile before that happens but I’m sure the time will fly by and be here before we know it. We hope you are excited to come visit the brewery and taste our beer!

Voyageur Brewing Co. owners Bruce Walters (from left), Mike Prom and Cara Sporn, all of Grand Marais, stand in the area that is going to be the taproom at the new production brewery under construction in Grand Marais on Thursday afternoon. (Clint Austin / North Shore hops on brewery bandwagon By Jana Hollingsworth on Aug 17, 2014 at 8:44 a.m.


The Voyageur Brewing Co. in Grand Marais is still a shell of wooden beams and metal but its owners have already been approached by Cook County purveyors of honey, maple syrup, hops, wild rice, apples and coffee.

Owners Mike Prom, Cara Sporn and Bruce Walters are eager to see how their brewery will weave local products into the seasonal offerings they plan to put on tap when their 20-barrel production brewery opens in 2015.

“All walks of life have come up to us and are excited,” Prom said of the building activity on Highway 61 in town, “from the third-generation, blue-collar local to those that live here three months out of the year.”

The 5,400-square-foot space will be the first of its kind in the area, and will house a taproom that also includes a fireplace and lake views, a kitchen for small plates, and a rooftop bar. Tours and tastings are planned for the beer marketed toward the adventure-seeker, and a conservative estimate of 1,000 barrels in the first year is expected.

Prom and his wife, Sue, own Voyageur Canoe Outfitters at the end of the Gunflint Trail. They have been longtime friends with Sporn and her husband, Paul, who owns the popular Grand Marais restaurant My Sister’s Place. Bruce Walters, an investor, and his family have been longtime friends with the Proms. The Walters family recently moved to Grand Marais from the Twin Cities area. The friends have been talking about a brewery for six years, and two years ago began market research and crafting a business plan. None of the owners are home-brewers, but have business backgrounds and profess a love for craft beer.

Collectively, they felt a production brewery and taproom was a missing piece on the Grand Marais landscape, and demographic research has shown the county’s residents are craft beer drinkers, Prom said.

The company will fill eight year-round jobs. A head brewer has yet to be announced, but Sporn revealed that on permanent offer would likely be an IPA, a Belgian wheat and either a stout or a porter style. Six beers will always be on tap. The owners are excited about the influence of Lake Superior water on their beer because of how little pretreatment it needs.

“That’s one of the reasons you’re seeing so many breweries around Lake Superior,” Prom said.

Voyageur’s plan is to handle local customers first, and eventually roll out to Duluth and the Iron Range. Within five years it hopes to make it to the Twin Cities. The brewery won’t compete with local restaurants. Its charcuterie platter and spent-grain pretzels, for example, will whet the appetite of beer drinkers before they set out for dinner. They’ll also allow food to be brought in. The brewery will sell bottles at first, and growlers made of stainless steel and environmentally friendly Nalgene water bottles that can be brought into the Boundary Waters Canoe Area Wilderness.

The owners will be joining a serious roster of more than 10 brewers in Northeastern Minnesota and Northwestern Wisconsin, some of whom they’ve gone to for advice. Sporn said the craft brewing community is one of the friendliest industries she’s encountered.

Other regional production companies include Bent Paddle Brewing Co., Lake Superior Brewing Co. and South Shore Brewing in Ashland. A smaller production company — Castle Danger Brewery — just opened a bigger facility in Two Harbors. Neighbor and Gunflint Tavern owner Jeff Gecas will roll out five varieties of beer in the next month from his new five-barrel system.

But the region isn’t saturated, said longtime Fitger’s Brewery head brewer Dave Hoops.

“People really like to buy stuff from these areas. The North Shore and Duluth, Grand Marais; they are all brand names these days,” he said. “I always go back to the fact that right now 92 percent of the beer drank in this country is Millers, Coors, etc. As long as the product is at the highest level of quality, I don’t think there is any kind of limit.”

Even in Duluth, he said, where there is a greater concentration of breweries, he sees space.

“You can see with the unbelievable success of Bent Paddle how much people want this,” Hoops said, noting that many of the breweries are small: “Borealis, Blacklist, Carmody. They are all great, but tiny. Bent Paddle is the only game in town going statewide. I think there is plenty of room yet.”

Walters said the surge in craft brewing in smaller towns hearkens back to the pre-Prohibition era when communities had their own breweries. It’s an inspirational locavore movement and it makes sense, he said.

Prom compared consumers’ obsession with craft beer to that of coffee and wine in recent decades.

“They’re not just accepting one flavor,” he said. “They want to see the local stuff. When we vacation together we find the brewpub. It’s part of the culture right now.”

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Where are We in August?

Unorganized Territory - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 12:27pm

Cook County News-Herald staffers love to get out and about the county. So we decided, while we are traveling the highway and bushwhacking through the forest, to take pictures to see if our readers can guess WHERE ARE WE?

We did not receive any entries that were wrong in our July WHERE ARE WE? which was a little bit different than past locations. It was not a scenery shot, but was instead inside a building and we had a good response from people who knew that the photo was taken inside Johnson Heritage Post in Grand Marais. Thanks to Carolyn Wilhelm for sharing the idea.

And congratulations to Donna Gestel of Grand Marais whose entry was drawn from the correct answers. Donna wins a one-year subscription to the Cook County News-Herald.

Try your luck! Take a look at the August photo.

Where is this flag flying? Where was the News-Herald staffer standing when this photo was taken? Take a guess!

If you think you know where we were when we took the picture, send us your answer. The location will be announced next month and a winner will be drawn from all the correct answers. Whoever is drawn will win a free one-year subscription to the Cook County News-Herald (a $30 value). Good luck!

Return answer by mail, e-mail or fax to:

Cook County News-Herald

PO Box 757

Grand Marais MN 55604

Fax: 218-387-9500

Answer to the August WHERE ARE WE? must be received by September 15, 2014.

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What’s REALLY In Our Food: FAKE Blueberries?

Aging Youthful - Mon, 08/18/2014 - 1:00am

I just about fell off my chair when I came across this article about fake blueberries. But then again, I’m not really surprised the more I learn about what is REALLY in our food, and what is not. Once again…READ YOUR LABEL! From the tv.naturalnews website:

The blueberries found in blueberry bagels, cereals, breads and muffins are REAL blueberries right? Wrong! Award-winning investigative journalist Mike Adams, the Health Ranger, exposes the deceptive chemical ingredients and dishonest marketing of “blueberry” products from big-name food and cereal companies. The blueberries, it turns out, are made from artificial colors, hydrogenated oils and liquid sugars. See more episodes at (Click here to the whole article and investigative video)…


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8/17/14 - Blueberry Season is upon us folks

Sawbill Newsletter - Sun, 08/17/2014 - 8:40pm

8/17/14 - Blueberry season is upon us! The pickins are ripe this time of year in late summer, and many, including the crew here at Sawbill, have been taking advantage of this glorious time of year to find our favorite spots and pick. One little known fact about blueberry season is that not only are the blueberries themselves prime for picking and baking into your favorite foods (pancakes, pies, muffins, etc.), but the leaves are also a valuable resource. Blueberry leaf tea is a very tasty, and very healthy tea that can be made simply by baking the blueberry leaves, and steeping them in tea. So have at it folks! Get out there and take advantage of the season while it lasts. Blueberry picking season usually lasts until the end of August. We could tell you some of our favorite spots, but we don't want to give away all of our secrets now do we? - Mark

Crew member Emma Nelson picking for berries at her favorite spot.

These berries are naturals in front of the camera.

A well rounded harvest of both blueberries and their leaves

So many berries!

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2014 Crew

Tuscarora Lodge and Outfitters News - Sun, 08/17/2014 - 10:28am

The other morning I sat on my deck and watched the mist rising to meet the clear day, and my heart started pulling hard…to hold that mist down, to stall the start of the day, the end of the summer, this point in life.  It was so so beautiful, and I know it’s futile to try to hold onto something so beautiful and fleeting, but sometimes I can’t help myself.

Summer is closing.  Even though it seemed so endless and fresh 20 minutes ago (12 weeks actually) when the staff were arriving….old staff and new staff—to form the crew.  Now…as they start to trickle away, I want to hold them here. Each one of them. Let me introduce them to you.

Already we miss that bubbly cheerful Amy with her contagious happiness.  I could always hear Amy coming and going in the outfitting building- her chatter and laughter were not so subtle.  Also, I often scheduled her on late shift for those crazy busy nights, because this girl can multi-task ….from the fishing machine to the permit snafus to the phones, to the computer, to the store—simultaneously with the same bright confidence.   She’s something.

Liz was hired in May–as our fill-in-for-any-position person. Lucky us, because she can do it all. She joined Amy in finding humor in everyday things.  You cannot help but laugh a little at the things Liz finds funny.   But honestly, you should have HEARD her play the violin with Jerry Vandiver. You cannot help but get choked up a little by the sound she gets out of that instrument, either.  That’s pretty special when a person can make you laugh and cry in the same day.

Allie has been here for 3 summers, and I’m starting to feel like we cannot live without her.  She was a flawless food packer this year–but more than that, she quietly takes on the pulse of the staff– and she makes sure that everyone is welcome in her adventures.   My favorite moment with Allie this year is when we went blueberry picking in her jeep.  Well, I was going blueberry picking, she was actually off-roading.   We’re still hoping she can come back for one more summer before she heads into the real world of architecture.

Allie brought her sister Anna, who we hired without even blinking.   I should have known better than to expect an Allie-clone.  I mean, they both are really high quality workers, and great people. But-while Allie sits at the dinner table and I have to strain to catch her very quiet funny comments–Anna sings show-tunes.   And when the two of them planned the staff adventure list for the year–complete with a system of points and grids and “must dos”…Allie planned a cooperative effort for all to achieve, and Anna planned a competition.  Because Anna wins, or she’ll die trying.  Or in the case of the triathlon, she might just drown trying.   Style and form don’t necessarily count.  Winning counts.  Anna wins.

Kyle was in the fishing boat for part of every evening all summer.  Somebody asked him at one of our loud…everybody-talking-at-once..dinners–”What do you DO, what do you THINK ABOUT out there?   And Kyle–who always has a really good answer, but won’t give it to you unless you ask him— concisely replied  “The quiet is really nice sometimes.”    This guy has such common sense life intelligence, and he’s so quietly kind to everyone…I just can’t get over how lucky we are to have him.

Claire usually operates behind the scenes.  The most common thing I heard her say this summer was “Sure, I can do that.”   I really appreciate the way that Claire unloads the details out of my head and into hers.  It makes my load lighter, and we never run out of coffee.  One thing Shelby says is that people who bake are put together.  I tell you what, Claire can bake.

See sweet Lucy in the bottom of the boat, navigating?  She is our camp scout, and she takes her Tuscarora perimeter patrol job very seriously.   She also has a hold on Rachel’s heart.The thing about Rachel–who is our year-round manager, is that she always does things well.   Everything….from creating spiffy google website route pages, to repairing canoes, to cleaning corners, to training staff.  All details.  How lucky is that for us to have her at Tuscarora?

Kelly is our crew cook.  First of all, let me tell you that having a good crew cook is an amazing thing.  I just show up, with everybody else, and we line up for something really good, and hang out together.  Meals are a great part of the day.  I’ll bet we all have our favorites, but …whoa…her macaroni and queso, or her margarita pizza, and all  the salads…to die for.  We’ve had great food this summer, thanks to cute Kelly.Grant’s quirkiness amuses us all.  “Geez,” he said the other night.  “I don’t think I was ever funny until this summer”.   After hours, you can usually find his head and snorkel somewhere in the bay—not to be mistaken for a headless loon.   Sometimes he even fishes that way—with a little rod and hook he dangles right in front of his mask.  Grant notices the little details that can save us from catastrophes later.  He’s a good one to have around.

   For the first 11 weeks of this summer Shelby pursued an adventure-internship in Colorado. Isn’t that the bittersweet part of being a parent? We WANT her to have her own dreams, her own places-her own adventures of a lifetime—even though that means we lose her. We’re genuinely happy when she’s happy. Still, my favorite part is that we get her back for August, and now she’s a certified sawyer too.


Daniel is the outfitting manager.  It suits him.   As a mom, I worry that he’s taking on too much responsibility and becoming too old too fast, and developing a little twitch next to his right eye. As an employer, I have to admit that he sure is great at his job. Sometimes before he goes to bed he still comes around and says “hug” just like he did when he was three. He’s a competent man and a sweet boy all at the same time.

Macky is just a handsome little feller.

Joe is absolutely perfect for hospitality because he offers the same friendly helpfulness at the end of a long day that he did that first day of the summer.  He’s is an optimist…in the flesh….even after he just fails the gallon-challenge.  He’s just game for everything—and I hear he doesn’t miss anything going on…ever. You can’t help but like Joe.


There they are–our 2014 crew. Can you see why I love them?  It has been an honor for me to be part of this group of young people, and watch how they became a family who takes care of each other—and who are honestly committed to doing the hard work to take good care of every one who visits Tuscarora.  So, while I’m directing my heart to let go, I’m also really grateful for this slice of time and for the 2014 Tuscarora Crew.

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Quitting Wrinkles The Soul

Aging Youthful - Sun, 08/17/2014 - 8:02am

 Age wrinkles the body. Quitting wrinkles the soul. ~Douglas MacArthur

#AgingYouthful #SoulFoodSunday


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Sharing Makes Sense

Boundary Waters Blog - Sun, 08/17/2014 - 6:38am

I read this article and loved it so I thought I would share it with you, after all, sharing is caring!
Living Green 365  Sharing is caring

Have you heard of “collaborative consumption” or the “sharing economy”? They’ve become buzzwords with the rise of companies such as Airbnb and Zipcar. Both terms refer to the same economic model based on people and companies sharing, trading, reusing, and renting goods and services, rather than owning something outright. It can be as easy as sharing a snow-blower with neighbors instead of everyone on the block owning their own, or can be an entirely new business model like Airbnb where people rent out their extra bedroom to tourists. It is reinventing not just what we consume but how we consume.

The sharing economy offers benefits to participants as it strengthens community connections, allows access to goods without the cost of ownership, and reduces the environmental impact of most goods and services. It reminds me of that old adage we all heard in primary school: “Sharing is caring.” In the sharing economy, sharing is caring for your family, your community, and the environment.

There are tons of opportunities to get involved in sharing throughout Minnesota. It’s completely up to you how you want to get involved, from the individual to community level, and from sharing cars, to sharing used items, to sharing your skills with neighbors.

So check out some of these ideas on how to join the sharing economy:

Share your belongings and borrow from others. We all have those belongings that we rarely use and just sit in a closet or garage gathering dust. Why not find a use for them and share them with people in your community! Pass along your favorite books to people in your neighborhood by building a Little Free Library or holding a book-share event. If you have tools or items that you’d like to lend out to people, or are looking for something specific to borrow yourself, then the Sharing Shed might be for you. You can list what you have available to share, and search for items that you could use. Tool libraries offer a similar opportunity where people can checkout tools they need for free from a central location, rather than buying something new. If you want to learn more about how to start a sharing program like a tool library in your own community, then check out these handy instructions provided by the Center for the New American Dream.

Aim for reuse rather than buying new. If borrowing or renting won’t do, then look for something reused, refurbished, or repurposed! ReUSE Minnesota is a great resource for locating businesses and organizations that have used items for sale. You can also use the Hennepin County Choose to Reuse directory to search for specific items that are available used in stores throughout the area. Another great place to look for used products is the Twin Cities Free Market where you can find everything from TVs to dressers to exercise equipment, and the best part is that it’s free! And if you are a business, don’t forget the Minnesota Materials Exchange, a free service that links organizations with reusable goods they no longer need to those who can use them.

Save money by sharing cars and bikes. Owning a car can be expensive, especially given the harsh Minnesota winter conditions, and think about how much time that car just sits around each day. That is why various car-sharing programs such as HOURCAR and Zipcar offer the chance to enjoy the perks of using a car without the steep costs of owning one. When you use Car2Go you don’t even have to return the car to the same parking spot! But cars aren’t the only transportation option that can be shared. You can check out a bicycle at an hourly rate through Nice Ride MN, and when you’re done just return it to one of the kiosks throughout the Twin Cities. This is a great option for commuters or people who only bike occasionally. And finally, perhaps the most commonly used shared-transportation is the bus. Every time you ride the bus you reduce your greenhouse gas emissions, don’t have to worry about finding parking, and save money on car-related expenses! Check out the Metro Transit to find bus routes and learn more about other sharing-based transportation options such as carpooling. It’s never been easier to use a variety of options to get to your destination in a cheaper, more environmentally friendly way.

Share your skills. We all have talents and skills that other people might find useful. Why not put them to good use by teaching other people what you can do through a skill-share program. The Experimental College of the Twin Cities is a great chance to take classes taught by people on a range of topics from bike maintenance to film appreciation, or come up with a topic area and teach a class yourself! The classes are free and are a great chance to learn something new from a fellow community member. Similarly, the Hour Dollars program allows community members to swap time and services in an effort to strengthen communities. By completing services for other community members, you earn hours that can then be spent to have someone else help you out with a project. It’s a great way to get to know your community better and also get some work done!

Don’t forget about donating. Ever feel overwhelmed by the amount of stuff you have scattered throughout your house, garage, or basement? No matter what you do, sometimes it seems like stuff just keeps accumulating. A great way to simplify your belongings, while helping others, is to donate your unwanted items to nearby thrift stores like Goodwill or the Salvation Army. You’ll be helping support the work of charity organizations and cleaning out your home. If you have more stuff than you can transport to a thrift store, then a garage sale might work well to reduce clutter. It’s a great way to remove unwanted things from your home, make some money, and ensure that the items are reused rather than traveling to a landfill.

Be creative! Think of new ways to share with your community. You could set up a free-swap with neighbors where people can exchange items, or host a community sharing event. Or perhaps you could organize a community clothing collection of well-maintained clothing to donate to a local second-hand store. Whatever you do, you’ll get something out of it whether it is a less-cluttered closet, meeting your neighbors, or the satisfaction of donating to a great cause.

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Back to School Books!

Sivertson Gallery - Sun, 08/17/2014 - 3:02am

As summer starts to wind down and back to school advertisements flood our newspapers, radio and television, I am often brought back to the time when I, too was heading “back to school.” Back to school with new gym shoes, brightly colored notebooks and a bunch of freshly sharpened pencils. Life was good! In elementary school, I always eagerly awaited the “free read” time of day. A time when all us little kiddos had full authority to browse the children’s section of the school library. If there … read more

The post Back to School Books! appeared first on Sivertson Blog.

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Come Play in the BWCA

Boundary Waters Blog - Sat, 08/16/2014 - 6:11am

Outdoor play is good for you and your kids. Why not plan an end of the summer BWCA trip where you can play outdoors together? Think of all of the fun things you can do while you’re on a canoe camping trip with a kid.

  • Swimming and tons of associated water games like Marco Polo
  • Stick and pine cone baseball
  • Hackey Sack with a pine cone or real one
  • Skipping rocks
  • Catching crayfish or regular fish
  • Finding spiders, frogs and other fun insects
  • Stargazing and making up silly songs around the campfire
  • I Spy

The games you can play are endless just like the benefits of time in the wilderness are too numerous to count. If you can’t make it to the BWCA then at least make some time to play outdoors before school starts whether or not you have a kid.

Play in the BWCA


Nature play at home

Being outdoors is great for kids. Studies summarized by the National Wildlife Federation show that kids who spend regular time playing outdoors are more likely to be:

Great students and learners
Able to get along well with others
More creative and curious
Good problem solvers
Generally healthier and happier overall!
As a parent of two young boys, I can also tell you that nature play is relaxing and fun! Here are the basics, as well as some great resources to get you started.

Authentic nature play is unstructured, imaginative, and open-ended. It encourages experimentation and observation. It also includes an element of age-appropriate risk-taking. Risk taking can be as simple as climbing, balancing, and jumping from a new height.

While away-from-home nature areas might create some wonderful memories, you don’t have to travel away from your home to get the benefits of nature play. With a few simple additions, a backyard can include lots of the “good stuff” that is a part of nature play.

Nature play at home can include things like:

Loose parts, like piles of rocks, sticks, or leaves
Construction materials, like sticks, poles, straw bales, tarps, boxes, and 2x4s
Tools, like shovels, buckets, and rope
Mud, dirt, or sand
Hiding spaces
Balance logs and stumps
Small characters or props for ‘fairy villages’
Swings, hammocks, and other places for relaxing
One of the most inspirational guides I’ve read about nature play at home is the National Wildlife Federation’s guide for Nature Play at Home. Every time I look at it, I get new ideas! You can also find great resources on the Minnesota DNR’s Arbor Month page.

There are small adjustments to be made as you let your kids play in this way. For example, I’ve learned not to worry when the sand leaves the sand box. I’ve decided to allow the kids to dig a big hole in the yard, but I chose where to let it happen. I’ve let the kids harvest ‘herbs’ as a part of their imaginative games even if it means some of my plants take a beating. And, as the parts, pieces, forts, and rock piles move around it is certainly a bit messier than my pre-kid yard, but not any messier than most of my life. I smile (and take a seat on the porch steps) when I see how engaged and focused my sons and their friends can be in this environment.

Small spaces work too

Remember, even when space is limited there are creative nature play ideas to adopt. Balconies are usually big enough for potted plants, a fairy village, a vine tee pee growing out of pots, or a small sand box.

Ideas for winter

Snow play is a wonderful form of nature play. Mittened hands can still play with loose parts, branches, stumps and ropes. When the cold brings you in, bring nature play inside:

Bring loose parts inside. Fill baskets with rocks, tree slices, leaves, acorns, and other things you collect. They can be used as props for any storyline your young ones create.
Make an indoor sandbox.
Bring snow inside in a tub to play with. Try painting it with watercolors, like this.

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Small world, big fish

Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply - Fri, 08/15/2014 - 9:50pm

When the fish are this big, you know there are some good stories to go along with the picture.

Everyday at Stone Harbor is an adventure. What I really like to do is cruise the store and chat with our visitors. When doing this, I always try to find out where everyone is from. Many times they are from areas where I have lived, or I know people who live there.

Today was one of those days. As I walked downstairs, I was greeted by a guy who was going fly fishing with Chris. He asked if I was the owner and when I answered in the affirmative, he shook my hand and said his name was Jeff Olson and that he was the brother of Eric, whom I hunt with in Montana. Jeff had won the SnoFest silent auction adventure tour at Cathedral High School in New Ulm, which is where I graduated and that is how I knew is older brother. Not only that, but he had been taught in the grade school by my mother!! Wow, how great is that?

And Jeff’s wife, Cathy, who also went fly fishing, has been working in New Ulm for one of my oldest friends, Andy Biebl. So, not only was it a day where I could meet someone from my life a long time ago, but I also got to see a donation we gave to my alma mater be well used.

And in case you missed it, Jeff and Cathy caught a couple of really fine northerns on fly rods. Not bad for the first time out!

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8/15/14 - The Return of the Knight! April Finishes her journey

Sawbill Newsletter - Fri, 08/15/2014 - 5:03pm

8/15/14 - It's been quite some time since our last update on April Knight's canoe trip from Sawbill to York Factory on Hudson Bay. Last time we checked in with her she was about to get on a barge going up Lake Winnipeg.

April boarding the barge to go north on Lake Winnipeg.

Now, it is our pleasure to inform you that April finished her trip last Tuesday on August 5th after over 80 days on the water. It's great to have her back. What an inspirational woman! - Mark

April Knight at the end of her 80 day journey from Sawbill to Hudson Bay.

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Blueberries and Wild Rice

Boundary Waters Blog - Fri, 08/15/2014 - 6:51am

What do blueberries and wild rice have in common? You can put both of them in pancakes and you can harvest both of them on the Gunflint Trail.  This year the blueberries ripened later than normal due to the long winter and cold spring. The wild rice is following suit and won’t be ready to be harvested until later in the season.  We’re still finding ripe blueberries and I was amazed at how many were left on the trail to Blueberry Hill at Chik-Wauk Museum and Nature Trail.  If you’re looking for a place to pick then head on up the hill and you’ll find plenty. And if you’re looking to harvest wild rice here’s some useful information from the DNR.

DNR NEWS – FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                                                Aug. 11, 2014

Wild rice harvesting season opens Aug. 15; most areas not yet ready

Minnesota’s wild rice harvesting season is open from Friday, Aug. 15, to Tuesday, Sept. 30. Despite the season dates, harvesters must first ensure the rice is ripe before launching their canoes, according to the Minnesota Department of Natural Resources.

Minnesota’s green rice law does not allow the harvesting of unripe rice, and the late spring means some rice stands may be slow to mature.

More than 1,200 lakes and rivers in 54 counties contain wild rice, with concentrations of rice being the highest in Aitkin, Cass, Crow Wing, Itasca and St. Louis counties.

Rice is ripening similarly to last year.  Peak harvesting dates are estimated to be in early to mid-September as long as weather remains mild.

“Some areas had exceptional rice harvests last year,” said David Kanz, Aitkin area assistant wildlife manager. “Early and sustained high water levels this year have hurt some rice beds, so as water levels continue to come down, we’ll have to watch how the rice responds and see if there is enough growing season left for it to recover.”

Some beds that held rice last year may have no harvestable rice, Kanz added.  Scouting will be particularly important this year to find decent stands of harvestable rice.

Wild rice is the edible seed of an aquatic grass and is the only cereal grain native to North America. When properly processed and stored, the nutritious grain can be stored for extended periods.

In addition to being a traditional food source for Minnesota’s early inhabitants and an important part of Native American culture, wild rice is an important food staple for migrating waterfowl each fall and the growing plants provide important habitat for fish and invertebrates.

Because of the grain’s importance, harvesting wild rice is regulated in Minnesota. Some guidelines to consider before deciding to harvest wild rice include:

Harvest takes place from a non-motorized canoe, 18 feet or less in length, utilizing only a push pole or paddles for power.
Rice is collected by using two sticks, or flails, to knock mature seeds into the canoe. Flails can be no longer than 30 inches, and must weigh less than one pound each.
Harvesting licenses cost $25 per season, or $15 per day, per person for Minnesota residents.
There is no limit to the number of pounds people may harvest with a permit.
Processing is necessary to finish the rice into its final food product.
The gathering process is labor-intensive.
Like other forms of gathering, allowing ample scouting time will lead to greater success.  Accessing some lakes can be difficult and some lakes and rivers within tribal boundaries are not open to public harvest. Finding a mentor who is willing to share their skills and knowledge can greatly improve success.

More information about wild rice management, a list of wild rice buyers and processors, and a list of lakes and rivers containing wild rice is available on the DNR website at The 1854 Treaty Authority website also provides updates from ground and aerial surveys on some lakes within the 1854 ceded territory in northeastern Minnesota. The aerial surveys are tentatively scheduled for late August; the results will be posted soon after.

Those interested in harvesting wild rice are reminded that it is unlawful for any person to take wild rice grain from any of the waters within the original boundaries at the White Earth, Leech Lake, Nett Lake, Vermilion Lake, Grand Portage, Fond du Lac and Mille Lacs reservations except for Native Americans or residents of the reservations listed.

In addition, all nontribal members wishing to harvest or buy wild rice within the boundaries of the Leech Lake Reservation must have Leech Lake Reservation permits. For wild rice harvesting regulations, see

Aquatic invasive species are a serious threat to Minnesota waters. Like any other water users, rice harvesters should follow cleaning protocols to avoid spreading invasive plants and animals.

Harvesting licenses can be purchased online via desktop browser and smartphone at or any DNR license agent.

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Freedom Friday: Start With Baby Steps

Aging Youthful - Fri, 08/15/2014 - 1:00am

I am a huge fan of Dave Ramsey, financial guru. I love his no-nonsense, tell-it-like-it-is approach to getting out of debt and on to creating financial freedom. I first downloaded the audio version of The Total Money Makeover, and followed it up with getting the hardcover version to reference easily when I need it. For those of us who are religious, Dave throws in references to the bible and shares why being poor really isn’t what God wanted for us. For those of us who are not religious, just skip over the bible references and listen in, he has some great advice.

When I was first introduced to his teachings, I thought it was a little cookoo to be putting money in envelopes, BUT it really does work. If you find yourself always having more month at the end of your money, being a little cookoo might be your answer. They say the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting a different result. Try something different. And as Dave says, if you don’t control your money, your money will control you.

Just like making changes in ANY area of your life, starting to take control of your money begins with one step. I liked Dave’s “Baby Step” plan. Step 1 is to create a $1000 Emergency Fund. Using the Law of Attraction principle, Dave says that if you don’t have an emergency fund, you know Mr. Murphy? The guy who says if anything can go wrong it will? Well, if we have the emergency fund, we won’t be so scared of Mr. Murphy and perhaps he won’t come visit us at all!

Now you can either love or hate Dave and his principles, but no matter what, get control of your money. I’ve struggled with this most of my life and admitting I needed help was my first baby step and I happened to find Dave and liked his style. You may like someone else’s….just get started on your way and start making the “hard” decisions now so your life can be “easy” in the future. Right now Mark and I don’t want to be 1700 miles away from each other, but we knew it was the smart financial decision to make. It is temporary and it is what’s best for our future. Pain is temporary…baby steps.

If you need help on getting your mind in the right place to get started, check out my mindset one on one coaching plans. Once you get your mind in the right spot, the rest will fall into place. I’d love to help you get on track to YOUR freedom. Just take a step.

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8/14/14 - Local photographer, Paul Sundberg, was recently on a canoe trip out of Sawbill.

Sawbill Newsletter - Thu, 08/14/2014 - 1:16pm

8/14/14 - Local photographer, Paul Sundberg, was recently on a canoe trip out of Sawbill. Lucky for us, he was nice enough to share some of his beautiful photographs from Alton Lake. To view or purchase photos from Paul's recent trip follow this link to his website. -Jessica

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UFO Spotted in the Boundary Waters

Boundary Waters Blog - Thu, 08/14/2014 - 11:19am

How many times have you been canoe camping in the Boundary Waters and spotted something in the sky you couldn’t identify? It happens more than you may realize. Just this morning a guest told me about a flashing object in the sky that went up and down and side to side. It was large and remained in the sky so long they finally went back into the tent resigned to the fact they could be swooped up by a UFO any minute.

They also saw a large lighted object moving across the sky that was much bigger than a satellite. I saw the same object last night so I decided to do an internet search. I found out that the International Space Station was above us last night and determined that was what I saw. As for the other object it is still a UFO.

If you are wondering what is flying in the night sky you can find out by looking at this website and if you want to know about the ISS then check out the NASA website and signing up to receive alerts. Below is what you will receive.


SpotTheStation! Time: Wed Apr 25 7:45 PM, Visible: 4 min, Max Height: 66 degrees, Appears: WSW, Disappears NE.

Time is when the sighting opportunity will begin in your local time zone. All sightings will occur within a few hours before or after sunrise or sunset. This is the optimum viewing period as the sun reflects off the space station and contrasts against the darker sky.

Visible is the maximum time period the space station is visible before crossing back below the horizon.

Max Height is measured in degrees (also known as elevation). It represents the height of the space station from the horizon in the night sky. The horizon is at zero degrees, and directly overhead is ninety degrees. If you hold your fist at arm’s length and place your fist resting on the horizon, the top will be about 10 degrees.

Appears is the location in the sky where the station will be visible first. This value, like maximum height, also is measured in degrees from the horizon. The letters represent compass directions — N is north, WNW is west by northwest, and so on.

Disappears represents where in the night sky the International Space Station will leave your field of view

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