A free launch party for Nicole Helget's book, "Stillwater" will be held at 7 p.m., Feb. 4 at the Lowell Inn, 102 Main St. N., Stillwater.

The historical novel tells of how fraternal twins, separated at birth, are raised in the same small town, where they struggle for freedom from their families, their destinies, and sometimes, each other — all with the underground railroad as a haunting presence in their lives.

"Stillwater" will be released on the day of the event. To pre-order, call Valley Bookseller at 651-430-3385.

Lake Elmo

Gardening expert to offer insights

Bonnie Blodgett knows a bit about gardening in Minnesota. The garden columnist for the Pioneer Press, political editorialist for the Star Tribune, TV personality, and author of "Remembering Smell: A Memoir of Losing — and Discovering — the Primal Sense," and other books, will share her insights about plants that work well in the Minnesota climate and how to plan for spring planting.

The public is invited to her presentation at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, January 28 in the public meeting room of the Lake Elmo Public Library, 3537 Lake Elmo Ave. N., Lake Elmo.

Blodgett hopes to initiate a group conversation about plants we love. She has also been published in Better Homes and Gardens, Midwest Home, Garden Design, and Fine Gardening. Her newsletter, "The Garden Letter" won the Garden Writers Association award for excellence in its first year of publication.

For more information, contact the library at 651-773-4926.

Cottage Grove

Thrift store to hold fundraising show

The Stone Soup thrift store will host its Variety and Fashion Show Fundraiser from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, Jan. 26 at the VFW Post 8752 (Red Barn), 9760 E. Point Douglas Road, Cottage Grove.

Admission for the event, which will include a silent auction, is $6 for adults and $4 for children 4-12. There is no charge for children 3 and under. Admission covers Carbone's dinner and dessert. Details are available at https://www.facebook.com/events/628061437240601/.


Local painter's works to MDA art collection

A local artist has had two of his paintings accepted into the Muscular Dystrophy Association's national art collection, which features the works of artists from across the country with muscular dystrophy and related disorders.

The two acrylic paintings, "Thunder" and "Apples Pearing," by Woodbury resident Alexander Gravdahl, will now hang in the MDA's national headquarters in Tuscon, Ariz., and will also be included in traveling exhibits, according to an MDA news release.

In the past, the collection has been displayed at the Dallas Museum of Art, Cork Gallery at Lincoln Center in New York City, the Los Angeles Children's Museum, and the Chicago Public Library, the release said.

"We're honored to receive these wonderful paintings by Alex into the permanent MDA Art Collection," MDA community relations manager Courtney McEleney said in the release.

– at the Minnesota State Fair and Washington County Fair, among other places. Each year, he hosts a benefit art show at his family's home in Woodbury.


Volunteers, donations for book sale sought

The Oakdale Branch of the Washington County Library, 1010 Heron Ave N., Oakdale, will hold a sale of used library materials and donations from the public from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. on Feb. 7 and from 9:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Feb. 8.

Hardcover books are $2 and paperback books are $1 each. Customers who use scanners pay a $20 fee per scanner per day for scanning book sale merchandise.

Donations such as books, CDs, and DVDs — but no textbooks or magazines — will be accepted before the sale. Donated items should be in good condition. Gently-used children's materials are especially appreciated. Funds raised from the sale benefit branch libraries in Washington County.

Volunteers to help with setup and cleanup and to assist customers during the sale can sign up at Oakdale Library's Info Desk or call the library to arrange a time to help: 651-730-0504.

Denmark township

Snowshoeing, hike by candlelight planned

A candlelight walk and snowshoe is planned from 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Feb. 1, at Afton State Park, 6959 Peller Ave. S., Hastings.

People of all ages and abilities are welcome to enjoy the candlelit trails. The 3-mile trail is suitable for beginner-level snowshoers and hikers. Call 651-436-5391 for information about equipment rental. If there is not enough snow for snowshoes, the trail will still be illuminated for hiking. In case of bad weather, the event may be changed or canceled.

Libor Jany, Jim anderson