Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Be gone with thee, Winter, to Georgia (or somewhere like that) April 10, 2013

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I VOWED THAT I would not write about the weather today.

High schoolers jog past my house this afternoon in temps hovering around freezing and with a fresh layer of snow on the ground.

High schoolers jog past my house this afternoon in temps hovering around freezing and with a fresh layer of snow on the ground.

But then runners jogged past my house around 3:30 p.m., which prompted me to grab my camera. One shot led to another and soon I was slipping on my shoes, treading across the icy patio with my camera tucked inside my sweatshirt (so as not to get rain on my camera) to stand under the roof overhang (so as not to get rain on my camera) to photograph my backyard.

Why?

Because my backyard landscape is white and I cannot stand this anymore, this undefeatable Winter who keeps sneaking through the door of Spring.

I awoke this morning to snow covering the landscape, as shown in this scene of my backyard and the woods adjoining it.

I awoke this morning to snow covering the landscape, as shown in this scene of my backyard and the woods adjoining it.

“Get Thee out of my yard, out of my city, out of my state!” I want to stomp and scream at Winter. I never use exclamation points, which emphasizes just how adamant I am.

I do not want to hear of sleet or freezing rain or snow accumulations. I want to slam the door on Winter.

I do not want to read another text message from my second-born who awakened to no power this morning due to a severe ice storm in northeastern Wisconsin which left 23,000 Appleton area customers without power.

I do not want to hear about air traffic issues like those experienced by my eldest and her fiancė whose flight from Denver to Minneapolis was delayed last night by snowy/icy weather and then rocked by severe turbulence over Nebraska and South Dakota.

And I do not want to read a “glad it’s you and not me” message tagged “Time for planting” and emailed this morning by reader Brad, who grew up in Minnesota and worked for the National Weather Service for 33 years.

Brad writes:

Don’t want to rub it in, BUT….

82 degrees today in Georgia and we are going out to buy a few tomatoes and pepper plants.

Be safe with your spring blizzard!

Uh, yeah, Brad, maybe I’ll plant snow peas and iceberg lettuce.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling

 

Sweet finds in downtown Montgomery, Part I

Rani's Furniture @ Antiques housed in a former hardware store in downtown Montgomery.

Rani’s Furniture @ Antiques housed in a former hardware store in downtown Montgomery.

I LOVE A SWEET vintage find. However, I can’t always own what I covet, even if the price is right. That’s reality. My pockets are not deep nor my house large.

But that doesn’t keep me from shopping thrift and antique shops like those my husband and I perused on a recent visit to Montgomery, Minnesota. I suggested we take the van, just in case we found a piece of furniture for the son who is moving into his first apartment in six weeks.

Randy saw right through that smokescreen.

I purchased the white table on the right and had to keep myself from buying the $60 dining room set.

I purchased the white table on the right and had to keep myself from buying the $60 dining room set. Note the beautiful original wood floor in this former hardware store building.

At Rani’s Furniture @ Antiques, Montgomery’s newest business (opened on April 3), I found my furniture find, much to the spouse’s chagrin. He couldn’t quite understand why I just “had to have” a $15 shabby chic round table with peeling paint.

I practiced my persuasive speaking skills. Think al fresco dining or an indoor/outdoor plant stand or a guest bedroom bed-side table and/or a really cool table to use at the daughter’s upcoming wedding reception in an historic venue. Randy wasn’t exactly buying my arguments, but acquiesced and dutifully loaded the table into the back of our van.

This 100-plus-year-old Hoosier cabinet had seven layers of paint on it before Mary Bowen refinished it. The cabinet is being sold in her son Dean Turnlund's store for $325.

This 100-plus-year-old Hoosier cabinet had seven layers of paint on it before Mary Bowen refinished it. The cabinet is being sold in her son Dean Turnlund’s store for $325.

I wished I could have stuffed a round dining room table with the heaviest wood chairs I’ve ever lifted; a 100-plus-year-old Hoosier cabinet resplendent with tip-out bins; and two aged wardrobes into the van, too. But I wasn’t about to push my luck and purchase this furniture I neither needed nor have space for in our home.

Love these old wardrobes for sale at Rani's.

Love these old wardrobes for sale at Rani’s.

A girl can dream, though, can’t she?

The stone block steps leading into Rani's.

The stone block steps leading into Rani’s.

I tend to get all starry-eyed whenever I enter an antique or other shop featuring vintage furniture. Rani’s, housed in a hulking corner brick building labeled as “Lepeskas Block 1898,” had me in her clutch even before I stepped onto the substantial stone steps leading into the former hardware store.

Michelle McCrady owns Quilter's Dream and the adjacent music store, 116 First Street South in downtown Montgomery.

Michelle McCrady owns Quilter’s Dream and the adjacent Montgomery Music Studio.

Likewise, even though I’m not a quilter, Michelle McCrady’s Quilter’s Dream dreamy quilt shop, located two blocks north of Rani’s in the Old Ben Franklin store and complete with an impressive original tin ceiling, charmed me, too. I cannot resist the sweet touch of historic features.

Quilter's Dream features a beautiful original tin ceiling and a wonderful collection of quilts, fabrics, notions and more.

Quilter’s Dream features a beautiful original tin ceiling and a wonderful collection of quilts, fabrics, notions and more.

Plus, entering Michelle’s shop was like stepping into spring with vibrant hues splashing across quilts and bolts of fabric. This quilt shop reawakened the seamstress in me—the teen who, in the seventies, stitched clothing from hot pants to the shortest of short skirts to sensible simple dresses for Grandma.

Bolts of eye-catching fabrics in bright hues line shelves.

Bolts of eye-catching fabrics in bright hues line shelves.

I’ve never lost my appreciation for bolts and bolts and bolts of cotton fabric awaiting the pinning of straight pins, the snip of scissors, the stitch of thread. There’s something artfully satisfying about creating from fabric.

A sampling of the gorgeous quilts you'll find in Michelle's shop.

A sampling of the gorgeous quilts you’ll find in Michelle’s shop.

Fifteen minutes in Michelle’s shop will convince you that this mother of 11 is passionate about quilting and all things fabric. She teaches classes, leases out time on her long-arm quilting machine and stitches up plenty of cute gifts from aprons to bibs, not to mention the many fabulous quilts gracing her store walls.

This owl quilt centers a back nook.

This owl quilt centers a back nook.

Who knew such sweet finds await shoppers in Montgomery? Not me.

Another nook, this one at the front of the quilt shop.

Another nook, this one at the front of the quilt shop.

Michelle uses this long-arm sewing machine to quilt at the shop. Quilters can also pay to use the machine.

Michelle uses this long-arm sewing machine to quilt at the shop. Quilters can also pay to use the machine.

FYI: Quilter’s Dream, 116 First Street South, is open from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. Monday – Friday and from 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Saturday.  Click here to reach the Quilter’s Facebook page.

One of my other favorite finds at Rani's, a vintage 50s toy chest.

Two other favorite finds at Rani’s: a vintage 50s toy chest and Cabbage Patch dolls.

And just because I appreciate vintage graphics, here's the label inside the toy box lid.

And just because I appreciate vintage graphics, here’s the label inside the toy box lid.

Rani’s Furniture @ Antiques, 300 First Street South,  is open from 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Wednesday – Saturday.

CHECK BACK TOMORROW as I take you into more sweet shops in this southern Minnesota community. Click here to read my introductory post to this small town. And click here to view my photo essay on an old-fashioned Montgomery barbershop, Main Street Barber.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling