Friday, November 14, 2014

Feed My Starving Children


By: Kimberly Stommes

 
I was invited by the beautiful and lovely Sarah Wall-Beckman (Miss MN International 2005; Miss International 2005) to participate in a special event with the Feed My Starving Children organization in Coon Rapids, MN. The event was a special Minnesota Vikings themed fundraiser called “Tackle Starvation.” Every volunteer made at least a $50 donation towards helping to feed kids all around the world. I was a guest of honor, along with MN Vikings Cheerleaders, Kayla and Saral.

 
 
 Pictured with the MN Vikings Cheerleaders, Kayla and Saral.

 
Feed My Starving Children is a non-profit Christian organization committed to feeding God’s children hungry in body and spirit. The approach is simple: children and adults hand-pack meals specifically formulated for malnourished children, and then the meals are shipped to nearly 70 countries around the world! A single meal costs only $0.22 to produce!

 I absolutely loved signing autographs and handing out my photos taken by the wonderful Paula Preston!

 
This was my third time packing for Feed My Starving Children, but it was my most favorite and most memorable. I brought my daughter, Ava, with me to this event and she had such an amazing time! I really was not sure how a newly turned 6 year old would do at an event like this but I was very impressed! I took the time to speak with Ava during our 1 hour car ride, trying to inform her of children around the world who are less-fortunate than her and I. Children that do not have the food they need to survive. It really became a great dialogue between her and I, as she was very inquisitive as to why this is, or why they don’t have toys, or how come they don’t even get one piece of candy.

 At the event, they had fun music playing while were packing and Ava loved dancing and singing along while we were packaging the meals.

 
 Ava and her new friend, Amiee, and I helping to pack food

 
There are several ways you can support the mission of Feed My Starving Children:

 Pray for the millions of starving children around the world and FMSC’s ability to serve them.

 Volunteer to package meals.

 Donate online (just 22 cents pays for one meal).

 Purchase FMSC merchandise from their Online MarketPlace or at any of their sites.

 Visit www.fmsc.org to find how you can help out at a location near you!

 I challenge each and every one of you to get involved with packaging meals with Feed My Starving Children and make it a family event! This is was not only eye-opening, but heart-warming, and a great way to spend an afternoon!

 Yours truly,

 Kimberly Stommes

Mrs. Minnesota International 2014

Bowling with Joe Mauer and the Highland Friendship Club

By: Kimberly Stommes

 
I was invited by a former Mrs. Minnesota International, Nancy Paradise, to join her friend Heather, executive director of the Highland Friendship Club to take part in the Lanes for Friendship event. I was a special celebrity that got to bowl with one of the HFC members and sponsor, but there might have been someone else that was kind of a bigger deal than me…Joe Mauer with the Minnesota Twins!
 
 
 Taking a photo with one of the HFC members

 
The Highland Friendship Club is a non-profit organization that was started by two parents who wanted to offer young adults with disabilities the opportunity to spend time with their friends, learn social skills, try new things and most importantly, have fun! Today, more than 200 teens and adults with disabilities are active members and participate in art classes, swimming, fitness classes, music and many other weekly fun activities designed for teens and adults with disabilities. Members also work on inclusive community service projects with students from local high schools and colleges.

 
Meeting Joe Mauer!

 The event was emceed by Kare 11’s Eric Perkins, and there were many other celebrities there as well including people that have appeared on NBC’s The Voice, Minnesota Roller-Derby Girls, former Vikings players, and more! I was the only queen at the event and everyone loved trying on my crown and learning more about what the International system stands for. Meeting Joe Mauer was definitely the highlight of the event! He was a little quiet, and VERY tall. I definitely did not expect him to be so tall, but he was at least a foot taller than me, WITH THE CROWN ON, and he was bending down.

 
I would like to think I am good at many things, but bowling is not one of them.

 
This was probably one of my most favorite events that I have been part of since being crowned Mrs. Minnesota International! I made up for my poor bowling score (I at least broke an 80 this time) by winning a silent auction item FILLED with lots of chocolate goodies!

 
Yours truly,

Kimberly Stommes

Mrs. Minnesota International 2014

Diabetic-Friendly Dessert Recipes


By: Kimberly Stommes
 

A diabetes diagnoses does not mean that you have to give up sweets! Two key things to remember are that in moderation it can be okay, and simple substitutions when baking means even those with diabetes can indulge!

Since the holidays are fast approaching I thought it would be great to post two diabetic-friendly dessert recipes. Even if you do not have anyone that is diabetic eating at your holiday table, consider making these anyways because they are often times very healthy for everyone and still taste amazing!  In fact, one of the BEST cakes I made recently was a sugar-free recipe, and no one knew!

 
 Black Forest Trifle

  BLACK FOREST TRIFLE

1 (8-ounce) package chocolate sugar-free, low-fat cake mix (such as Sweet ‘N Low)

¾ cup water

1 (1-ounce) package chocolate sugar-free, fat-free instant pudding mix

2 cups fat-free milk

1 (16-ounce) package frozen no-sugar-added pitted cherries

2 or 3 drops red food coloring

2 cups fat-free frozen whipped topping, thawed

Sugar-free chocolate curls (optional)

 
Preparation: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Prepare cake mix according to package directions, using ¾ cup water. Let cake cool in pan; remove from pan, and cut into cubes.  Prepare pudding mix according to package directions, using 2 cups-fat-free milk; chill at least 30 minutes. Thaw cherries, reserving ¼ cup juice. Combine cherries, juice, and food coloring. Place half of the cake cubes in a 3-quart trifle bowl. Spoon half of cherries over cake; spread 1 cup pudding over cherries, and top half of whipped topping. Repeat layers. Garnish with curls, if desired. Cover and chill at least 8 hours.  

 
Calories per serving:
132
Calories from fat:
0.0%
Fat per serving:
1.7g
Saturated fat per serving:
0.6g
Monounsaturated fat per serving:
0.0g
Polyunsaturated fat per serving:
0.0g
Protein per serving:
3.3g
Carbohydrates per serving:
28.1g
Fiber per serving:
0.9g
Cholesterol per serving:
1mg
Iron per serving:
0.0mg
Sodium per serving:
151mg
Calcium per serving:
0.0mg

 
  Cookies and Cream Crunch

 
COOKIES AND CREAM CRUNCH

1 (6.5-ounce) package sugar-free chocolate sandwich cookies, crushed

1/3 cup chopped pecans (optional)

3 tablespoons reduced-calories margarine, melted

1 quart vanilla no-sugar-added, fat-free ice cream, softened

 
Preparation: Combine first 3 ingredients; reserve 1 cup mixture. Press remaining crumb mixture firmly in bottom of a 9-inch square pan. Freeze 10 minutes. Spread ice cream over crumb mixture in pan. Sprinkle reserved crumb mixture over ice cream; gently press mixture into ice cream. Cover and freeze at least 8 hours. To serve, let stand at room temperature 5 minutes; cut into squares and enjoy!
 
Calories per serving:
232
Calories from fat:
0.0%
Fat per serving:
10.1g
Saturated fat per serving:
1.7g
Monounsaturated fat per serving:
0.0g
Polyunsaturated fat per serving:
0.0g
Protein per serving:
6.3g
Carbohydrates per serving:
34.2g
Fiber per serving:
0.7g
Cholesterol per serving:
0.0mg
Iron per serving:
0.0mg
Sodium per serving:
182mg
Calcium per serving:
0.0mg

 
Recipes from: http://www.health.com/health/gallery/0,,20307087,00.html

 As you can see, simple substitutions can still taste great and are much healthier for all of us; diabetes diagnosis or not!

Yours truly,

 
Kimberly Stommes

Mrs. Minnesota International 2014

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Lions Club International’s 5M8 Mini-Forum

Written by: Kimberly Stommes

 

 

 

 When asked to be the guest speaker at the Lions Club International’s District 5M8 mini-forum held in Foley, MN, I was beyond thrilled. What a wonderful way to reach such a large group of people in one presentation. Over 300 people were expected to be in attendance and it was a wonderful turn-out.
 
 
 Speaking at the Mini-Forum in front of a crowd of hundreds

 

After speaking with a group I am always touched when people approach me afterwards with their touching stories how diabetes has impacted them or their loved ones. I had one individual tell me how their 6-month old child was recently diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes and they have to check the child’s glucose levels multiple times in the middle of the night. I often hear stories of people that have made life-style changes and have completely turned their lives around. I hear stories of people needing to have their limbs amputated due to diabetic complications. Each story is unique and I always walk away from presentations having learned something new myself.
 

 
 I thoroughly enjoy when people affected by diabetes tell me their experiences

 

 Yours truly,

Kimberly Stommes

Mrs. Minnesota International 2014

 

 

 

Project Bear Hugs

Written by: Kimberly Stommes

 

Project Bear Hugs is a Minnesota based, non-profit organization that is dedicated to providing comfort to children in need through the donation of teddy bears. Minnesota queens representing various systems were invited to partnership with Build-A-Bear Workshop at the Mall of America to help support this great cause!

 I was invited to attend by National American Miss Pre Teen Minnesota, Grace Myler and over 140 bears were made and donated to the “Birthday Bears” program at the Southside village Boys and Girls Club.
 
 
 Helping to make the donated animals extra special for the receiving children

 

 Miss Minnesota International 2014, Gabby Taylor, and myself helped at this event and it was such an amazing experience. We went into Build-A-Bear at the Mall of America after-hours and had a fun time picking out our bears, making wishes, doing the dances, rubbing their hearts, giving them baths, and donating them to children in need. What a fun non-profit event, thanks for the invite Grace!


 
 Gabby Taylor and I pictured with Grace Myler and our finished animals

 

Yours truly,

Kimberly Stommes

Mrs. Minnesota International 2014

Sunday, November 2, 2014

Ladies Luncheon

Written by: Kimberly Stommes

 

 

 Guest speaker at the Bluffton Ladies Lunceon

 
What an honor it was to have been asked to be the guest speaker at the annual Bluffton Lions Club Ladies Luncheon! I had the opportunity to speak about diabetes risk factors, symptoms, proper management skills, and the University of Minnesota’s research update. I spoke about some key facts including:

 ·         Every 17 seconds another individual in the United States is diagnosed with diabetes

·         It is estimated that 57 million people have pre-diabetes

·         By the year 2050, 1 in 3 American’s will have diabetes

 
These numbers are staggering! They are proof that this is a global epidemic and the numbers are rising. Diabetic screenings were also available at this luncheon. I always take advantage of the screenings when they are available because I have a family history of diabetes and feel that the small prick and 5 seconds of your life, are never wasted when you are doing something preventative. One thing that I had mentioned during my speech is that of the many people that were at the event, just over half a dozen took part in the screening. I was shocked the number of screenings completed were so low, especially for a diabetes-related event.

 
 Getting my blood-sugar levels checked

 
There was a silent auction at the event, which generated part of the $1877 made in proceeds, all of which were donated to the Minnesota Lions Diabetes Foundation!  It was a successful event in which I was proud to be part of! Loved having the husbands serve the ladies lunch as well!

 
 Yours truly,

 
Kimberly Stommes

Mrs. Minnesota International 2014

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The GREAT Minnesota Get Together!

Written by: Kimberly Stommes
 
 
I will admit it. I scarfed my face with yummy food at the MN State Fair! What was my favorite item you ask? BACON ICE CREAM! You HAVE to try it! It sounds gross, but really, it is amazing! It is maple-flavored ice cream that has candied bits of real bacon in it. Heaven in your mouth!
 
 My good friend from law school, Megan Bond and I enjoying the best thing I have ever tried: Bacon Ice Cream
 
 
My second favorite item (which I failed to get a photo) was the Gourmet Deep Fried Pickles. These are deep fried pickles with cream cheese stuffed inside! Yum! I also had to try the Pronto Pups Corndog, Original Cheese Curds, and the hand-squeezed lemonade!
  
 
 Megan Bond and I enjoying our Pronto Pups!
 
 
I would have worn my crown and banner but unfortunately it was raining. The rain did not stop us from still enjoying the food of course! I also ran into my sister queen, Rachel Flynn! What are the odds of that? We also did some shopping and toured many exhibits! If you have never experienced the MN State Fair, I highly suggest you try it! Did you know that the Minnesota State Fair consistently ranks in the top 5 in the United States each year? Now you know!
 
Yours truly,
 
Kimberly Stommes
Mrs. Minnesota International 2014

Donating School Supplies

Written by Kimberly Stommes

 

I am the President of the Sauk Rapids Riverside Lions Club. One of our events that we do each fall is that we donate school supplies to the elementary schools in Sauk Rapids. Each year our club is fortunate to have Dawn Bard help us shop for the items to be donated, and then also assist in the donation itself. Donating school supplies is something that our club takes great pride in doing. This year, our club donated over $500 in school supplies to needy children.

 
 
 Ava helped me, Bill Bard (Sauk Rapids Riverside Lions Club Secretary) and Dawn Bard (Bill’s wife) donate school supplies to the elementary schools in Sauk Rapids. Pictured are only some of the items donated to just one of the schools.

 
Did you know that the items schools located in central MN need most are pants, shorts, and underwear for children? I think most of us forget that these may seem like simple necessities, but not all children are as fortunate to have these items. School officials also said that the items are nice to have on hand for when children have accidents at school, they do not have to feel embarrassed. You can even wash gently used items you have at home and donate them to your local elementary school!

 
Ava helped me, Bill Bard (Sauk Rapids Riverside Lions Club Secretary) and Dawn Bard (Bill’s wife) donate school supplies to the elementary schools in Sauk Rapids. Pictured are only some of the items donated to just one of the schools.

 
Simple events like this always remind me that we often take many simple things for granted. My challenge to you is to see what impact you can have on the life of another, even as small as donating a used item to someone in need!

 
Yours truly,

 
Kimberly Stommes

Mrs. Minnesota International 2014

 

Senior Connect


Written by: Kimberly Stommes

 

One of my favorite parts about being Mrs. Minnesota International 2014 is that I have had so many opportunities to travel throughout the mid-west and raise awareness for diabetes prevention and management.

 
Recently, I was invited to speak with a group of senior citizens from my hometown of Sartell. There were some individuals in the crowd that had diabetes so they were able to add to the dynamics of the conversations and presentation. Many in the group however, did not know what diabetes was and were very interested in learning symptoms and preventative methods.

 
 Speaking to the Sartell Senior Connection group

 

 Individuals can experience different signs and symptoms of diabetes, and sometimes there may be no signs at all. Some experience:

Frequent urination

Excessive thirst

Increased hunger

Tiredness

Tingling sensation or numbness in hands and feet

Blurred vision

 
Development of type 1 is usually sudden and dramatic while the symptoms can often by mild or absent in people with type 2 diabetes, making that type hard to detect.

 At present, type 1 cannot be prevented. The environmental triggers that are thought to generate the process that results in the destruction of the body’s insulin-producing cells are still under investigation.

 Physical activity is main pillar in prevention and management of diabetes. Increased physical activity is important in maintaining wright loss and is linked to reduced blood pressure, reduced resting heart rate, increased insulin sensitivity.

 Hand-in-hand with integrating physical activity into your routine is making sure you have a balanced and nutritious diet.

 Also, if you are a smoker, it would be a huge benefit to your health if you quit smoking. Smoking, of course, has other harmful effects, but smoking increases abdominal fat accumulation and insulin resistance.

 The American Diabetes Association offers a risk test in which you can find out if you are at risk for developing diabetes.
 
 
Answering questions about diabetes prevention and management

 


Yours truly,

Kimberly Stommes

Mrs. Minnesota International 2014

 

Jacksonville Florida


By Gabby Taylor

 My overall experience in Jacksonville Florida is one that I will never forget! This blog write-up is one that is going to be a bit lengthy, I apologize for that in advance. It’s near impossible to recap an entire week of memories into one short blog submission.

 My entire week started off by getting to the airport. This is the first time that I had ever gone through airport security by myself. With a carryon bag, my purse, my crown and only one fully functioning arm, this task wasn’t an easy one. After getting everything to my gate, I met up with my sister queen Rachel, her mother Amy and their cat Maggie! Before I knew it, we were off and on our way to Jacksonville. We certainly had some fun on the plane. One memory that specifically stands out is when Rachel and I had an impromptu photo-shoot with the flight attendants in the back of the airplane. I think that the flight attendants had just as much fun as we did!

 
Time certainly flew, and we did as well. Upon our landing, we immediately got all of our bags. Amy had arranged a limo to pick us up at the airport and bring us to the Omni hotel. Our limo driver was a former Minnesotan who had relocated to Jacksonville (due to weather, go figure). The Omni hotel was our host hotel for the week. We got checked in and settled in no time at all. The Omni staff was incredible and extremely accommodating as well.

 The first “official” pageant event was the contestant orientation. This was a wonderful opportunity to meet all of the state, region and country titleholders. We had the chance to learn about all of the meaningful platforms, which I absolutely loved! It still amazes me when I think back to how many bright, accomplished and passionate women I was surrounded by. I was definitely in good company!

Immediately following the contestant orientation, I went back to my hotel room to video chat with my family. We are a very tight knit group, so for me not having them there at the beginning of the week was so difficult. Thank goodness for technology, having the ability to video chat with my entire family (even my fur-baby Cooper) was heaven sent.

 

One of my highlights during my time at nationals was our day out and about Jacksonville. The first thing I had the privilege of doing was making tie blankets for local pediatric cardiac hospital patients. I am so thankful for the American Heart Association and all that they do in regards to the health of people nationwide. Next, we got to visit Sweet Pete’s Candy Store. There was a little of everything there in regards to candy. It was a sweet tooth’s dream! We all had the chance to see firsthand how lollipops are made, and even got to each make one to take home with us. I had no idea how lollipops were made, so this was a special treat that I’ll never forget. Our next stop was the walking tour of Jacksonville. It was very interesting to learn all about the history of the city. Going underground to see the old bank vaults was such a cool experience. We got to see some of the best views Jacksonville has to offer, I was so thankful that the International Pageants included this as part of our day. The last but my personal favorite place we got to visit was the Jacksonville Jaguars Everbank Stadium. We got to see all of their training facilities, film rooms, the new score board (which is the world’s largest), new pool/cabana area, the playing field and even had the chance to meet a few players.  With my platform being Sports Safety Education and Injury Prevention, I was especially interested in what the Jaguars are doing to keep their athletes safe. They have some wonderful protocol in place to encourage safety, as well as cutting edge technology they use in the event of an injury. Needless to say, I was impressed!

 

People say “practice makes perfect” and I would certainly have to agree with that statement. The Miss International week was full of rehearsals. It was so fun getting to learn the opening number routine, different modeling patterns, all while building friendships with the other contestants. All of the production staff were amazing to work with and had such big personalities. Even though the rehearsals were long and my feet were often sore, some of my favorite memories rook place during our daily practices.

 

Personal Interview was something I was most anxious and excited for. This was my opportunity to share my story, passion and mission in regards to my platform. The panel of judges was all amazing; I thoroughly enjoyed communicating with each of them. I had five minutes with each judge, and the time went by much too quickly for my liking! Overall, I felt extremely happy with my personal interview.

 We had the chance to make a very special appearance at the PACE center for girls in Jacksonville. All of the Miss contestants were split into groups; each group then had a theme. We then had breakaway sessions with the girls. The topics varied from runway walk, interview skills, makeup/image, and finding your passion/volunteerism. I was blessed to be placed in the “finding your passion/volunteerism” group. My group emphasized the importance of finding each and every girls passion in life, then in return we helped them find volunteer opportunities which directly correlated to their unique passions. I was so sad when it was time to leave. I’ll always cherish the special moments I had which the girls at the PACE center that day.

 It was now time for my teen queen Rachel to compete in her preliminary competition. I had so much fun cheering her on while she represented Minnesota so beautifully onstage. It was an amazing experience getting to watch Rachel in her element, she sparkled! I am so proud to call Rachel my sister queen.

 It really hit me how fast the week had gone by when I was having my hair and makeup done for the Miss International preliminary pageant. I had the time of my life representing Minnesota on the stage under the bright lights. It’s absolutely crazy how fast the night went by, before I knew it the preliminary pageant was over.

 Rachel and I tried our hardest to get a good night rest; we had a big day ahead of us! All of the hard work that we had dedicated towards our platforms and this pageant had gotten us to this moment, the Final Miss and Miss Teen International pageant! Having my family finally there was the most comforting feeling.

 

The stage was set, the lights were bright and it was time for the pageant to begin. After the opening number and all of our introductions, it was time to announce which contestants had made the top 15. When my name was called, I felt an overwhelming amount of joy and when they called Rachel’s name as well I could barely contain my excitement! It was now time to do my onstage interview. I felt so calm and at peace prior to my turn to share about my platform and answer my question. Once all of the top 15 delegates in both the Teen and Miss division had completed their onstage interview, it was time to announce the top 10. Once again, my name was called! I felt so blessed to be able to continue on. From this point onward, the night went by in a blink of an eye. Finally it was time to announce the 2014 Miss and Miss Teen International titleholders. We stood there holding hands and my name was called as 4th Runner-Up. I couldn’t have been any happier. I feel so blessed to have placed in the top 5 at the Miss International Pageant. It was such an impressive class of women and I am honored to have been a part of the first pageant held in Jacksonville, Florida! My overall experience is one that I truly will cherish for a lifetime.

 

I am so proud of my sister queens Kimberly, Rachel and Lainey. We have all made Minnesota proud, and all of you certainly made me proud. Pageants are not about winning but rather personal growth and sisterhood. The International Pageant holds such a special place in my heart. So many people helped my get to where I am today, and for that I am so thankful. My family and sponsors are so amazing and supportive. Thank you to Sarah Moses of The Pageant Shop by Michaels for helping me find the perfect wardrobe. Holly Ernst, you are the absolute best coach a girl could ever ask for. You have been so helpful over the years; I look forward to our journey in pageantry together in the years ahead! Judy Wright, you are so talented! You made me feel so beautiful, I wish I was half as good at hair and makeup as you are, you truly have a gift. Krista Wanous, thank you for lending me dresses and advice, I adore you! Allison and Richard, thank you for providing the opportunity to be involved with the MN International Pageant system, I have had such an incredible year so far. Mary and Mel Richardson, thank you so much for running the best pageant out there! I have enjoyed my journey at nationals, and hold such fond memories from both Chicago and Jacksonville.

 Samantha Riddle, congratulations Miss International 2014! You are going to have such an incredible year and I am so excited for you. I look forward to seeing all of the fantastic things you will do throughout your year!

 To the next Miss Minnesota International, embrace each and every opportunity and be unapologetically “you” at your nationals experience! Use your title as a microphone to share your passion with any and all who are willing to listen and be prepared to leave Jacksonville with dozens of memories and new friends from all over the globe. You will be incredible and I cannot wait to meet you in March!

 I am so proud to be a Minnesotan!

 Until next time,

Gabby Taylor

Miss Minnesota International 2014