Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Celebrating Amber & Marc’s marriage October 1, 2013

Eleven round tables, which will seat up to 10, filled the reception space. The groom's parents and grandparents and other family members were seated at the table in the foreground.

Eleven round tables, which will seat up to 10 each, filled the reception space. The groom’s parents and grandparents and other family members were seated at the table in the foreground.

WHEN THE BRIDE AND GROOM, my eldest daughter and her new husband, envisioned a reception venue, they pictured a warehouse type space.

The couple arrives at the reception venue in the Bachrach Building in historic downtown Faribault. The social hour was held in the first floor Atrium and the reception in the second floor The Loft. The exterior floral pieces were created by my floral designer sister, Lanae Feser of Waseca Floral. Photo by and courtesy of Rochelle Louise Photography of Minneapolis.

The couple arrives at the reception venue in the Bachrach Building in historic downtown Faribault. The social hour was held in the first floor Atrium and the reception in the second floor The Loft. The exterior floral pieces were created by my floral designer sister, Lanae Feser of Waseca Floral. Photo by and courtesy of Rochelle Louise Photography of Minneapolis.

Marc specifically wanted exposed brick walls. Initially, I could not think of any place in Faribault fitting their vision. And then I remembered The Loft (probably Faribault’s best kept secret) in the historic Bachrach Building and invited the engaged couple to drive down from the metro to view the venue.

The couple looks at The Loft space with the bride's dad earlier this year.

The couple looks at The Loft space with the bride’s dad earlier this year.

The minute they walked into the second floor Loft, I knew they had found the perfect place to celebrate their marriage.

Beautiful natural light filters in through west facing windows as the newlyweds settle in at their sweetheart table.

Beautiful natural light filters in through west facing windows as the newlyweds settle in at their sweetheart table.

And celebrate we did in this room of exposed brick and limestone walls, a wooden floor upon which to dance and a bank of western windows flooding the room with natural light. Professional photographers Rochelle and Tom Muellenberg of Minneapolis based Rochelle Louise Photography raved about the beautiful lighting.

The bride's sister and maid of honor, Miranda, speaks and toasts the couple.

The bride’s sister and maid of honor, Miranda, speaks and toasts the couple.

As the sun set, we laughed and dined and talked and danced and raised our glasses thrice to toast the newlyweds.

BONUS RECEPTION PHOTOS:

wed

One of my favorite photos, converted to black and white to avoid the distraction of color. I love the emotions caught in this image.

The groom walks past the bride's parents' table.

The groom walks past the bride’s parents’ table, left.

The bride was beautiful in her stunning vintage replica dress.

The bride was beautiful, from all sides, in her stunning vintage replica dress.

Just look at how the natural light plays on the brick walls as the Rev. Robert Snyder, retired pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, leads the group in prayer.

Just look at how the natural light plays upon the brick walls and faces as the Rev. Robert Snyder, retired pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church, leads the group in prayer.

Faribault based Arna Farmer Catering catered the meal of chicken breast in white wine sauce, roasted sweet potatoes and a mixed vegetable medley. Dessert of apple crisp and bars was served later. There was no wedding cake.

Faribault based Arna Farmer Catering & Cakes catered the meal of chicken breast in white wine sauce, roasted sweet potatoes, a mixed vegetable medley and bread (which is not shown here because I seldom eat bread). Dessert of apple crisp and bars was served later. There was no wedding cake. The food was outstanding. I’d recommend Arna and crew for the food and service anytime. Excellent.

The father of the bride, my husband Randy, starts his speech. He asked me to help write the speech since I am, um, yes, a writer. It was a hit with a mix of memories, humor and seriousness.

The father of the bride, my husband Randy, starts his speech. He asked me to help write the speech since I am, um, yes, a writer. It was a hit with a mix of memories, humor and seriousness. Our daughter and her husband watch from their corner sweetheart table.

My husband and I agreed that he should use several props to make his speech memorable. Here he pulls out Amber's favorite childhood doll, Sal, whom she dragged everywhere. Randy introduced the groom to Sal before handing over Amber's treasured doll.

My husband and I agreed that he should use several props to make his speech memorable. Here he pulls out Amber’s favorite childhood doll, Sal, whom she dragged everywhere. Randy introduced the groom to Sal before handing over Amber’s treasured doll. We also gave Amber a complete set of the Fox easy reader chapter books, including “Fox in Love,” by the Marshall brothers. They were among her favorites as a little girl. The DJ, per our request, also played a snippet of a Spice Girls song. That all-female band was one of Amber’s favorites as a teen. Randy concluded his speech by focusing on a parent’s love and welcoming Marc to our family.

The obliging DJ, Taylor from Taylor Made Tunes.

The obliging DJ, Taylor from metro based Taylor Made Tunes.

The Kletscher cousins (my side of the family) and significant others minus my daughter (who was out decorating the wedding car) and my niece Hillary, who'd already left.

The Kletscher cousins (my side of the family) and spouses/significant others minus my daughter (who was out decorating the wedding car) and minus my niece Hillary, who’d already left. That’s my son, Caleb, third from the left in the white shirt in the back row. He was an usher.

Meet the Schmidts: Jon Eric, the groom's brother and best man, left; the bride, Amber; the groom, Marc; and Jon Eric's wife, Stephani. Photo courtesy of Jon Eric Schmidt.

Meet the Schmidts: Jon Eric, the groom’s brother and best man, left; the bride, Amber; the groom, Marc; and Jon Eric’s wife, Stephani. Photo courtesy of Jon Eric Schmidt. Jon Eric and Stephani were married earlier this year in their native California.

The single ladies celebrate after one of them catches the bouquet.

The single ladies celebrate after one of them catches the bouquet. Much to my relief, there was no garter toss.

The celebration ended shortly after the couple left at 9:30 p.m.

The celebration ended shortly after the couple left at 9:30 p.m. That’s Sal peeking out of the cloth bag carried by the bride.

FYI: Click here to see photos of the reception set-up in the second floor Loft and the first floor Atrium, where the social hour was held.

You will find more information about Arna Farmer Catering & Cakes by clicking here.

For info about Rochelle Louise Photography, click here. And to view Rochelle’s blog post about Amber and Marc’s wedding, click here.

To learn more about Waseca Floral, click here.

To view earlier wedding posts, check Minnesota Prairie Roots archives from the past week.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Photo by Rochelle Louise Photography is copyrighted and used here with permission.

 

Showering the bride-to-be (my daughter) with gifts & love August 6, 2013

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MY HUSBAND’S ELDEST SISTER suggested early on that I put away my camera.

But how could I, with no other camera in sight, set aside my Canon and simply allow the events of the afternoon to imprint upon my memory only?

Guests filled the living room and spilled into the dining room for my daughter's Saturday afternoon bridal shower.

Guests fill the living room and spill into the dining room for my daughter’s Saturday afternoon bridal shower.

I needed to visually capture these moments in which my eldest daughter, Amber, was showered with gifts and love at her bridal shower.

The bride-to-be opens gits.

When I look back now on these images, I remember the laughter, the emotions, the excitement, the joy, the delight that comes in knowing your daughter has grown in to this incredible young woman who is head-over-heels in love…

Shower, gift

White lace and white bows.

My floral designer sister Lanae created these bouquets, which include flowers that will be among the wedding flowers.

My floral designer sister Lanae created these bouquets, which include blooms that will be among the wedding flowers.

Flowers and chocolate and “fu fu.”

The most emotional moment of the shower came when Amber opened linens hand embroidered by her future husband's maternal grandmother, who died in 1992. She embroidered the linens to be gifted to her grandson's future bride.

The most emotional moment of the afternoon came when Amber opened linens hand embroidered by her future husband’s maternal grandmother, Beatrice (who died decades ago). The linens were to be gifted someday to Beatrice’s grandson’s bride-to-be. And this was the day when my daughter’s future mother-in-law delivered the precious packages. The embroidered hues of the flowers are the wedding couple’s colors, making this gift even more remarkable as Grandma Beatrice could not have known this.

Linens, a legacy of love and tears.

The gift of a clothes hamper prompted me to share that 30-plus years ago, the aunts on my father's side always gifted brides-to-be with a hamper and a bathroom scale.

The gift of a clothes hamper prompted me to share that 30-plus years ago, the aunts on my father’s side always gifted brides-to-be with a hamper and a bathroom scale. After much laughter, the group consensus was that a scale would not be a welcome gift. Times have changed. I still have my brown hamper, which looks quite similar to my daughter’s, but not the scale. That broke years ago.

Pots and pans and knives. A hamper for their clothes. The tools to create their new home.

Shower, recipe

Her husband-to-be’s favorite recipes handwritten by his mother, Lynn, who flew in from California for the bridal shower.

Personal messages written from the heart inside cards.

Hugs and well wishes.

Wishes shared...and read.

And lovely words to read.

She was gifted with a personalized bag bearing her new last name of Schmidt.

She was gifted with towels and a personalized bag bearing her new last name of Schmidt.

Soon Amber Helbling will become Amber Schmidt.

The bride-to-be with her soon-to-be husband.

Amber and Marc

My daughter. My sweet girl. All grown up. And, oh, so in love with Marc.

BONUS PHOTOS:

The wonderful family and friends who gathered at my sister-in-law Joanne's house for the bridal shower.

The wonderful family and friends who gathered at my sister-in-law Joanne’s house for the bridal shower.

As always, my floral designer sister created a beautiful gift package.

As always, my floral designer sister created a beautiful gift package.

The delicious food, especially the dessert on the right. That's my 81-year-old mom to the right. She traveled several hours to attend her granddaughter's shower.

The delicious food, especially the dessert on the right made by my husband’s eldest sister. That’s my 81-year-old mom to the right. She traveled several hours from southwestern Minnesota to attend her granddaughter’s shower.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Christmas fun with the family December 28, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 9:12 AM
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CHRISTMAS WITH THE KLETSCHERS could never be termed as uneventful. Thanks to my fun-loving family (typically led by one especially crazy sister), we are always assured that our time together will be laced with laughter, love and a few surprises.

This year the party planning sister arrived at our middle brother’s house on the southwestern Minnesota prairie with an armful of vintage hats for the women, and occasionally the men, to wear. We were remarkably chic. Not a single hat resembled the hideous ribbon-style fascinator sprouted by Princess Beatrice at Prince William and Kate Middleton’s wedding. We Minnesota women possess far better taste than English royalty.

My party-planning sister and her daughter in their hats. My niece's hat is actually a re-purposed baby birds hand puppet that matches her mom's bird nest hat.

I suggested my eldest daughter start a new fashion trend in Minneapolis with her hat.

A few of the guys, including this unidentified family member, briefly wore vintage hats.

I can’t say the same for all attire worn at the holiday gathering. At one point my eldest daughter donned a Christmas sweater, duly admired by her grandmother who likely did not realize the sweater was a joke.

Look to the center of this image and you'll see my sister in her Grinch outfit ready to lead us in the gift exchange.

However, we all roared at the outfit my sister slipped into for the entertaining gift exchange that involves much hoopla and swapping of presents. Only this sister could carry off wearing a Grinch shirt with such fashionable flair.

My fun-loving middle brother suggested this photo op contrasting the modern Kindle with the antique crank wall telephone. There's also a crank phone in the basement and sometimes we pretend to call from the basement to the upstairs, shouting as loud as we can.

Later, a Kindle quickly became a source of entertainment for, ahem, those of us who’ve never seen such technology.

Santa surprised us all. Much laughter and many hugs and lots of photos followed.

Santa swooped in for a surprise visit, bringing back memories for the 20 – 30-something age group who remember past family Christmases with the old young jolly man in attendance.

For the second Christmas in a row we gathered outside for...sorry can't tell you.

We topped off the evening by shrugging into our winter coats and gathering outside the garage for…well…I can’t reveal that part of our family celebration. Suffice to say you would be impressed.

HOW DOES YOUR FAMILY make Christmas fun and memorable? Let’s hear. We’re always open to new entertainment options.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Happy birthday, Miranda! November 16, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 11:16 PM
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Miranda, five days old

MY SECOND BORN turned 24 today.

Miranda lives 5 ½ hours away in eastern Wisconsin so I had to settle for texting a birthday wish to her this morning. Finally, around 4:30 p.m., she got back to me after a long work day that began at 4:30 a.m. She had to be at an area hospital by 6 a.m. to interpret for a Spanish-speaking patient undergoing surgery.

She didn’t have much time to chat; her friend Greg was arriving soon and they were going out for a birthday dinner. Miranda hadn’t eaten all day and she was hungry.

Afterward she was having friends over to celebrate. One of them, Gerardo, planned to bring the cake.

I don’t know if they ate any of the cake. But my husband, who just talked to our daughter, told me the cake was smashed in her face. Knowing several of the invited guests, I expect it was Julio’s idea. Miranda said she saw it coming.

Now I don’t think I’d much like a cake or pie or anything smashed in my face. But I’m not 24 either.

I had to think for a minute today about exactly how old my daughter was.

“Mom, you don’t know how old I am?” she asked, a strong tone of disbelief tingeing her question.

I had to do the math quick-like in my head. I didn’t tell her, but thought, “I can’t even remember how old I am sometimes.”

And sometimes I find it hard to believe that my two daughters are in their 20s, my son turning 18 in a few months. Where did the years go? Honestly.

No one smashed cake into Miranda's face when she was almost two; she managed this all on her own.

Miranda with her Little Mermaid birthday cake on her fifth birthday in 1992. That's a troll she's clutching and a homemade birthday hat with her nickname, Tib (after Tib in the Betsy-Tacy books by Maud Hart Lovelace). Everyone loved Miranda's curly hair.

 

One year later: A thank you party in flood-damaged Hammond September 21, 2011

An aerial view of Hammond during the flash flood of September 2010. Photo courtesy of Micheal and Tina Mann.

NEARLY A YEAR AGO, residents of  Zumbro Falls and nearby Hammond were evacuating their homes during a devastating flash flood.

They were not prepared—could not have been prepared—for the rapidly rising Zumbro River that would inundate their homes and businesses on September 23/24, displacing them for months and many of them permanently.

Within three weeks of the flooding, while on a Sunday afternoon drive to view the fall colors, my husband and I drove into Zumbro Falls. There I met Jackie, Tracy and Susie. Just down the road in Hammond, I met Katie.

Tracy Yennie of Zumbro Falls, whom I photographed shortly after the flood which left her without a home and living temporarily in a shed.

These four women shared their stories and frustrations and worries with me. In return, I published what I today consider some of the most powerful posts I have ever written. Click here to read this flood series published on October 11, 2010.

Flooding in Hammond, one year ago. Photo by Susie Buck.

My coverage of the flood did not end then. These women so impressed me with their fortitude, their strength and their outspokenness that I continued to follow one of them, Katie Shones of Hammond, throughout the year. Katie was my go-to person any time I wanted an update from her Wabasha County community of 230. Not once did she suggest that I was intruding into her life. In fact, she has gone above and beyond in answering my many questions. She also introduced me to her dear friend, Tina (Marlowe) Mann.

Tina and I have never met, but we’ve corresponded numerous times via e-mail. Like Katie, Tina has always, always, been forthright and open with me. She allowed me to share her story in a March 13-19 series. Click here to read the first of those six posts.

Via my connections with Katie and Tina, I was able to inform you of the need for volunteer help in Hammond. And at least two readers responded with crews to assist in Hammond. Others of you may have responded in ways that I’ll never know.

This weekend Hammond is celebrating its recovery with a “Thank You” party. “We would like anyone who was impacted, donated, volunteered, or showed compassion for Hammond to come back down and see how far we’ve come and allow us to show our appreciation – the Hammond way!!!” Tina wrote in a recent e-mail. She invited me to attend and said I could spread the word.

So, if you fall into that “impacted, donated, volunteered or showed compassion for Hammond” category, make your way to this picturesque riverside berg on Saturday, September 24, to celebrate with Tina and Katie and their families and the other residents, and former residents, of Hammond.

The first day back into their flooded Hammond home, Vicki and Dallas Williamson had 20 minutes to grab whatever they could carry on the back of a four-wheeler. The family did not move back. Photo by Sheri Ryan.

Tina, who now serves on the city council; Hammond Bar co-owner Janice Farris; Hammond Café co-owner Cindy Campbell; former Mayor Judy Radke; and flood-affected resident Beau Mischke did the initial planning for the party and pulled in many local residents to help with activities, according to Tina.

Here’s the schedule of events:

  • 2:30 p.m., park dedication
  • 2:45 p.m., Kiddy Carnival
  • following the carnival, horseshoes at the Hammond Bar & bean bags at the Hammond Cafe
  • 3 p.m., corn husking in the park
  • 5 p.m., free sweet corn and hot beef sandwiches
  • Also, live music by Led Penny and Bad Logic and fireworks at dusk.

As you might guess in a small town, the entire event and door prizes are being covered by donations from businesses, residents, friends of Hammond and clubs. I’m not going to list them for fear of omitting someone.

Suffice to say you would be impressed.

And just one more thing. Tina tells me that by the end of the month, 12 crab apple trees will be planted on Main Street and in the east end of the park in honor of the children of Hammond affected by the flood.  Those, too, have been donated, by a Rochester nursery and garden center. Click here to read an earlier post about the affect of the flooding on Katie Shones’ children.

I never doubted that the folks of southeastern Minnesota would rebound from the devastating flood of September 2010. I knew it when I met Jackie, Tracy, Susie and Katie. These are strong, determined women. Nothing would stop them from reclaiming their communities.

The bridge connecting east and west Hammond is barely visible during the flood, which also overtook the town's park. Photo courtesy of Micheal and Tina Mann.

CHECK BACK FOR A POST tomorrow in which Tina Mann shares her thoughts on the past year and how her community has worked toward recovery. As in the past, Tina speaks with an honest, open voice that will touch your heart.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

One year short of three decades May 15, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 5:52 PM
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ON THIS DATE 29 years ago, I married my sweetheart.

And, yes, May 15, 1982, was also opening weekend of fishing. And, yes, several guests did not attend because they chose to go fishing. Others were in the field.

Here our wedding guests are pelting us with rice as we exit St. John’s Lutheran Church in Vesta. (For those of you unfamiliar with Vesta, pull out your Minnesota map, focus on the southwestern corner of the state, zero in on State Highway 19 and you’ll find this small town between Redwood Falls and Marshall.)

In this church congregation (different building) where I was baptized and confirmed, Randy and I exchanged our wedding vows. (My glasses really were that gigantic and we really did look that young and skinny.)

During the reception at the community hall, we were whisked away for awhile to the municipal liquor store across the street. Then, later, after supper, we danced the night away with family and friends.

Today we celebrated by shopping at a home improvement store. Pretty pathetic, huh?

Not too worry, we’re also planning to dine out. And even if we weren’t, the most important part of every anniversary for the past two decades and nine years has been that I am with my husband.

I have one question, though: How did nearly 30 years pass so quickly?

© Text Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Photo by Williams Studio of RedwoodFalls

 

Mother’s Day thoughts May 8, 2011

Filed under: Uncategorized — Audrey Kletscher Helbling @ 4:00 PM
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My oldest daughter and my son pose after the wedding yesterday.

IF YOU ARE A MOM, are you having a good, maybe even great, Mother’s Day?

Mine has been low-key given my family returned a few hours ago from traveling out-of-town to attend our nephew’s wedding on Saturday.

When we dropped our eldest off at her south Minneapolis apartment this afternoon, she asked if the guys had anything planned for me. I accepted her greeting card, promise of a hanging flower basket and told her I didn’t think so.

They are busy.

The husband is napping in the recliner. I should add here that I suggested he take a nap. He deserves to rest after all the long hours he’s been putting in at work lately.

The teenaged son is doing homework and, I think, studying for an Advanced Placement physics test tomorrow. He remembered today was Mother’s Day only after Mother’s Day wishes were exchanged among family members at the hotel this morning.

The second daughter called as our family was driving into Minneapolis. Her timing was perfect, diverting my attention from all the crazy drivers. However, she did cause me to miss some photo ops.

My other daughter.

That all said, my Mother’s Day has been uneventful and not particularly memorable.

But that’s OK. I’ve been with two of my three children and spoken with the third.

In a few hours, I’ll call my mom and wish her a “Happy Mother’s Day.”

If she’s like me, she will appreciate more than any card or gift, the call telling her “I love you.”

Aren’t those the words that really matter the most to mothers on Mother’s Day, and any day?

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

 
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