Minnesota Prairie Roots

Writing and photography by Audrey Kletscher Helbling

Vending rural & rustic in Zumbro Falls October 7, 2016



TIS THE SEASON OF FALL occasional sales.




Although I haven’t shopped one yet, I showed up a day early for The Rustic Hinge Fall Gathering in Zumbro Falls. Not on purpose. My husband and I were on a day trip, no specific destination in mind, when we happened upon a yard full of stuff in the heart of this small southeastern Minnesota river town.




Stuff would be defined as collectibles, antiques, primitives and such all with a definitive rural and rustic theme.




My disappointment rated high when I inquired and learned the sale opened the next day. And nope, no early shopping. Except window shopping, minus the windows. Too bad for me.




I glimpsed new, aged, repurposed and other merchandise in the Hinge’s outdoor lot across the street from a building presumably packed with lots more.




You have three more days to shop this occasional sale. That would be today (Friday) from 1 – 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m.

You can’t miss the sale. Downtown Zumbro Falls is only a few blocks long.

TELL ME: Do you have a favorite occasional sale that you shop?

© Copyright 2016 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Going green in Luverne at ReBorn October 3, 2014

That's ReBorn, in the right corner of the city-owned theatre building at 102 E. Main Street.

That’s ReBorn, photographed in July 2013, in the right corner of the city-owned theatre building at 102 E. Main Street. ReBorn has since relocated to 113 E. Main Street.

TO THINK I ALMOST did not pop into ReBorn Home Furnishings in downtown Luverne because my husband mumbled something about “furniture store.”

But I should have known, given the name “ReBorn,” that this would be an extraordinary place.

Oh, my gosh, readers, to think that I could have missed this homegrown business which restores, recycles, reuses, refinishes, reincarnates, rebuilds and revives home furnishings.

On a July 2013 visit to Luverne in the southwestern corner of Minnesota, after gaping at the fantastic old Palace Theatre entry right next to ReBorn and after photographing other buildings along E. Main Street, I opted to check out the business that didn’t interest my spouse. Note that ReBorn, since my visit, has moved to a new location at 113 E. Main Street.


Sorry, readers, the table and chairs are sold as is the hand-painted blue grey Armoire.

Honestly, Randy’s male opinion aside, I loved this place. Loved it. It’s artsy and hip and purposeful and just one incredible source for one-of-a-kind recycled home furnishings.

The red dresser/buffet is priced at $295.

The red dresser/buffet was priced at $295.

I am all about reusing what we have. ReBorn transforms old furniture and furnishings in to incredible functional pieces that pop with color and personality. You won’t find anything cookie cutter here. The business even does custom work.

That magical Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

ReBorn sells furniture transforming Annie Sloan Chalk Paint.

The secret to ReBorn’s look, so says Becky Feikema who was tending shop on the Saturday I stopped, is Annie Sloan Chalk Paint, a decorative paint that goes over most any surface without prep (such as sanding or priming) and leaves a velvety matte finish. ReBorn also protects the painted project with subtle sheen Annie Sloan Soft Wax.

I was a bit surprised that Becky, who has a degree in agriculture and not in interior design, shared so much, including two hand-outs on Annie Sloan Chalk Paint. But I suppose if you’re selling that paint, as ReBorn does, you push it.

This yellow table can be yours for $160. The chairs are $65/each.

This yellow table could be yours for $160. The chairs were $65/each.

I saw so many pieces of furniture and other merchandise in ReBorn that I loved. There’s that word again. Loved. I suspect, for that reason, Randy tried to steer me away from this incredible store. He knows me well. I resisted, I really did, and walked away (because I didn’t need anything) without a single purchase. Not that I wasn’t tempted…

The butterfly on the signage symbolizes the rebirth aspect of transforming old home furnishings in to something new and unique.

The butterfly symbolizes the rebirth aspect of transforming old home furnishings in to something new and unique.

FYI: Click here to reach the ReBorn Home Furnishings website to see before and after transformations, pieces available for purchase and more. This is one talented crew running this business.


Lots of merchandise to choose from in this corner display.

Lots of merchandise to choose from in this corner display. The hutch on the left was priced at $475.  The black chest of drawers and vintage fainting couch were sold.

The yellow shelving unit can be yours for $88.

The yellow shelving unit could be yours for $88.

This bench, repurposed from a bed, sells for $215.

This bench, repurposed from a bed, sells for $215.

The vanity/desk is marked at $135.

The vanity/desk, marked at $135.

FYI: ReBorn is open from noon to 7 p.m. on Thursdays and from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m. Saturdays. A Chalk Paint Class is set for this Saturday, October 4, and again on October 9. Click here for details.

Note that all of these photos were taken in July 2013 and therefore may not reflect current stock.

© Copyright 2013 Audrey Kletscher Helbling


Hotdish on a Saturday November 19, 2011

RATHER THAN DWELL on a single topic today, I’m going to serve hotdish. You know, this and that all mixed together to create this Minnesota-based post.

  • First off, if you follow my writing regularly, you know that I hang laundry outside. But even I’m beginning to wonder about my obsession. When I hung freshly-laundered towels outside Thursday morning, the outdoor air temperature stood at a bone-chilling 17 degrees. Yes, the towels froze nearly instantly. My fingers did not; I worked at a rapid pace. And, yes, the towels were dry when I pulled them from the line at 4 p.m.
  • Our proposed 2012 property tax statement arrived on Wednesday. I nearly fell over. The taxable market value of our property plunged $30,000 to $50,200. If this keeps up, the value will be lower than the price we paid for our house in 1984. The interest rate on our loan then was 10.75 percent. No typo, folks. Nearly 11 percent. (The loan was refinanced to 8.5 percent and paid off early long ago.)

Even though our proposed 2012 property value dropped $30K, our taxes will apparently increase by 12.6 percent or $72. Now tell me that makes sense? There’s a story here; I simply need to figure it all out.

  • If you dye your hair with an over-the-counter product and don’t use the same color or brand you’ve always used, beware. If your hair shows tinges of orange during the dying process, you should panic. This happened to me once.

Wednesday night, with a new color and a new product, the dye appeared white on my head. I do not need white hair to replace my gray hair. But this time I did not panic, trusting that the color would magically transform to the promised “tiki hut.” It did. Whew. I will not need to fire my hairdresser.

  • Back to the money thing. Every time I go to the grocery store, I walk out shaking my head. I cannot believe that I just paid $80 for groceries that fill only two bags.
  • After 10 months of placing cardboard over my living room windows because I didn’t have window treatments for my new windows, I am happy to announce that I have purchased grommet-top panels, the same ones I was eying, oh, about 10 months ago. It is a good thing I waited so long. I got them on sale.

The panels are bold and colorful and unlike anything anyone would expect to find in my home. This is proof that even I can occasionally emerge from my conservative shell. I expect the panels to be in place by Thanksgiving. (Yes, I will post about them here and show you photos.)

  • My 17-year-old made his acting debut Thursday evening as Dr. Thanatos in the Faribault High School production of Teenage Night of Living Horror. When I heard the name of the play, I laughed. Those teens won’t have to act, I thought. Wrong.

Consider dressing like a Zombie if you attend the FHS play. Here's one of the 25 Zombies from the production.

If you live anywhere near the Faribault area, you have two more opportunities to attend this horror genre production. (Don’t bring young children.) Showtimes are 7:30 p.m. tonight and 2 p.m. Sunday. Word has it that if you arrive tonight looking like a Zombie, your ticket price will be discounted $1. No official confirmation on that…

FEEL FREE to comment on any of the above. Let your voice be heard.

© Copyright 2011 Audrey Kletscher Helbling