tunheimmilan posterous

Twin Cities resident Patrick Milan is the Executive Vice President of Brand Strategy & Creative Director at Tunheim Partners, a Minneapolis-based strategic communications company that monitors consumer behavior and trends. He is also the blogger behind the tunheimmilan posterous blog, in which he writes about branding, media, public relations, advertising and other marketing-related topics.

Bloggers write for a variety of reasons. What specifically drew you to blogging?

As a former journalist I love to write about observations and stuff that might surprise people. I see stories everywhere and I particularly enjoy irony. That said, although I write about life a full two-thirds of my material is from a marketing standpoint. I watch consumer trends and work to write about how they apply to forward thinking brands.

What do you find to be the most challenging aspect of maintaining a blog? How do you choose to address it?

Making the time to write. I address this by forcing myself to sit down and write as soon as the idea hits me I push everything else aside because I figure my brain is telling my the thought is hot and ready to spilled out onto the keyboard. No story waits.

What are your favorite methods of social media networking to bring traffic to your blog?

SEO, but I publish my work on a few sites via links. I’ve posted my blog material on Wall Street Journal spaces. Material gets published pretty regularly in Minnpost.com Blog Cabin where I am one of their regular contributors. I recently posted one of my blogs on B2B mobile marketing in a comments section of B2B magazine. They picked it up and published it as a commentary in their magazine.

Who or what are your top resources for discovering what’s happening in the Twin Cities area?

Self discovery. I’m always out and looking, listening and thinking.

Started just last year, how do you hope to evolve tunheimmilan’s posterous in the future?

I hope to evolve it by getting my work published. One of my blogs will appear in the StartTribune business page next week. It is my second piece the Strib has picked up and used for Business Forum. Other ways will be to continue pushing material to MinnPost and other business/marketing outlets

Bloggers often draw inspiration from each other. What other blogs do you enjoy reading? Who are your favorite local Twin Cities bloggers?

Eric Bock is a great writer. He is at the Haberman agency and writes about Sustainability.

What do you love the most about living here in the Twin Cities Metro Area and why?

The creatives. Great writers with unusual viewpoints.

A Farm Girl’s Dabbles

Brenda Score is a Midwestern girl, not surprisingly raised on a farm and now living in the Twin Cities area. Preserving memories and family traditions is very importer to her. At her A Farm Girl’s Dabbles blog, she shares a collection of cherished recipes, favorite family photos, stories of life and her “artsy-fartsy” creative dabbles. In addition to being a blogger and creative soul, she is a wife and mother to two smart and silly girls. She enjoys the simple pleasures in life, like family, friends and fabulous food.

What was one of the first things you learned to bake successfully?

I learned to bake standing right beside Mom in the kitchen as a kid. And I probably accomplished my mom’s chocolate chip cookies first. She’s famous for them amongst my friends and cousins, and we always had a container of them in the freezer. Always!

Without taking into account nutritional needs, if you could eat one food everyday, what food would you choose and why?

A good fudgy brownie. It’s what I crave the most.

If you had $200 extra dollars right now, what kitchen- or cooking-related items that you don’t own would you purchase?

I really need to replace my stand mixer. Other than that, I’ve been eyeing an electronic kitchen scale. And a third set of measuring cups and spoons. Never enough of those!

What specifically drew you to blogging?

Blogging combines a number of my creative outlets – cooking/baking, scrapbooking/journaling, and photography. It was a place I could put it all together, to then share with my family and friends.

Bloggers often draw inspiration from each other. What other blogs do you enjoy reading? Who are your favorite local Twin Cities bloggers?

There are many local bloggers I like to keep a tab on. Here are just a few:
Stephanie of Fresh Tart
Amanda from I Am Baker
Shaina from Food For My Family
Kelli from I Had a Delicious Time
Kate from Kate in the Kitchen
Ria from Ria’s Collection

You are a transplant from South Dakota. What do you love the most about living here in the Twin Cities and why?

The variety! In less than 30 minutes by car, I can shop or eat however my heart desires.

What aspect of Spring in Minnesota are you most looking forward too?

Most of all, I can’t wait to open up the windows and get outside more! I also love gardening and the abundance of fresh produce, the increase in our grilling (pretty near daily), and eating al fresco.

Eyeteeth: A journal of incisive ideas

Twin Cities resident Paul Schmelzer is a busy guy. He is the editor of the Minnesota Independent, managing editor of the American Independent News Network, former editor of the Walker Art Center blogs, creator of Signifier, signed, a former editor at Adbusters, and contributor to Artforum.com, Cabinet, Raw Vision, Utne and others. And he still manages to run his own blog, Eyeteeth: A journal of incisive ideas. Though the blog started in 2003 as a way of establishing a practice of daily writing and research, it has since evolved into a forum where he to explores the place where politics and art, activism and media intersect.

What specifically drew you to blogging?

I started blogging in January of 2003 simply because I wanted a more regular writing practice, and one not tied to a job. By exploring my own interests and voice, without a paycheck tied to it or an editor to look it over, was liberating. Also, I was pretty pissed off at George W. Bush, so I did a lot of venting in the early days.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to creating new content? How do you overcome it?

My schedule’s my biggest barrier. With a day job that runs 50 hours a week or more, it’s hard finding time to explore my interests and do the kind of thoughtful posts I’d like. Lately I’ve been working to overcome it simply by doing content of any kind — my “Bits” linkdump posts of art- and activism-related items I find in the course of a day.

You have a page that shows what other people have said about Eyeteeth. How would YOU describe Eyeteeth to someone who has never read it?

A quirky yet smart look at the intersection of art and social change. Rather than a dour scholarly or art historical art blog, I like being an evangelist to bring politically minded people deeper into art or art people into civic engagement and politics. Eyeteeth is the gateway drug between art and social change! To that end, I like to throw in humorous or slightly out-of-left field content as well as smart writing about aesthetics, critical theory or art exhibitions. But be prepared for some deadly earnest material as well. While I love some of the posts I’ve done — a video of Broken Crow doing a huge mural on the side of Shuga Records in Northeast Minneapolis or my account of the Miss Rockaway Armada launching its flotilla of found-object rafts on the Minneapolis riverfront — I also like when art can help us confront some grim realities of modern life. In this category: an interview I did awhile back with Izabella Demavlys, a former fashion photographer who started doing portraits of Pakistani women whose faces had been burned with acid by men. Grisly, hard to look at, and for me, utterly important.

What is one thing you hope your readers learn/understand from reading Eyeteeth?

We have options. Philippe Vergne, who used to be the chief curator at the Walker Art Center when I worked there, once told me that (I’m paraphrasing) art is the production of endless alternatives. I’d like people to take that away: that we have creative autonomy to live engaged, interested, interesting lives of our choosing, instead of conforming to some version that hinges on what we buy or what our parents, churches or politicians suggest for us. I got my start writing when I was studying abroad in college. I started interviewing residents of houseboats in Little Venice, an area on the canals in West London, and realized later that I really enjoyed bearing witness to all the ways we can live in this worlds — in houseboats, as vagabonds, as artists, as firmly rooted midwesterners who have a hell of a lot of fun living our lives.

Bloggers often draw inspiration from each other. What other blogs do you enjoy reading? Who are your favorite local Twin Cities bloggers?

Probably my favorite Twin Cities blog is that of ROLU, Rosenlof/Lucas, a landscape architecture firm. Matt Olson has a very specific interest — radical architecture, contemporary art and design — but his blog is always intriguing and has a lot of depth; I think it’s as good as most of the national art blogs I read. I was founding editor of the Walker Art Center blogs, so they still have a place in my heart, especially Off-Center, where some of the more interesting content has appeared. (I just wish they’d post more!) And I like my friend Ed Kohler’s site The Deets and Taylor Carik’s eclectic enterprises, Mediation, Flak Radio and Secrets of the City.  In addition, there are tons of local Tumblr blogs that I read: Utne, The Opie, Urban Foodie, Stuff About Minneapolis…. Too many to list, really.

What do you love the most about living here in the Twin Cities Metro Area and why?

I love biking in Minneapolis. We suffer through these godawful winters, but the promise of biking under the Hennepin Avenue bridge or down to the Hexagon or around that big loop down Kennilworth to the Greenway across the Sabo bridge and back up to the riverfront by the Guthrie… amazing. I also like the fantastic beer, the great bike makers (Surly, Salsa, Handsome),  the Stone Arch Bridge, the amazing art and music venues (big and small), the occasional weird impromptu art finds (this guerrilla “Struggle” sign on the bridge between Boom Island and Nicollet Island is the perfect example), and the good, interesting, creative, relatively no-nonsense people I seem to encounter every day. Finally, I love the hearty stock here: Events like the Powderhorn Art Sled Rally, the Art Shanty Project, and the Blizzard Pub Crawls (the one in Northeast during the December blizzard ended up at the 1029 on Marshall, where an older African American guy in snowblowing coveralls was singing a Kid Rock/Sheryl Crow duet with a young white woman in sweats and mukluks), remind me that there’s a unique breed that calls this place home.

2011 is still young yet. Do you have any big plans for your blog in the New Year?

Nothing all that special, but so much that I’m looking forward to: A huge garden in the back yard, biking to Sea Salt and Summer Music & Movies, more cooking, music, writing, etc. I also want to figure out how to build or find a bike trailer for hauling my new dog, Finn, on my sojourns. Blog-wise, I’m hoping to do more local content, more multimedia (videos) and more critical writing about art. I tend to feel like we’re in an Age of Enthusiasm: everybody wants to share the great stuff they find — which is partly how I got started — but few want to do the tough work of calling out the not-so-awesome. Maybe that’s the next step for me.


Minneapolis resident Kate-Madonna Hindes publishes the GirlmeetsGeek blog. She is an industry leader, national author and speaker on emotional integrity and authenticity in online media. Columns she writes are regularly published in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Women of HR, Brazen Careerist and JobDig. Her some of her speaking and writing credits include bookings at the Keith Ferrazzi’s Relationship Academy, 2010 WordcampMSP, Social Media Breakfast in Imation Headquarters, 2009 Cervical Cancer Conference. A few of her recent on-air appearances were with WCCO and International Radio Station, GirlTalkRadio, and WomeninBusinessRadio.

Your blog has been around for about three years. How has it evolved since you first started blogging?

I’ve actually been blogging close to 15 years. My first years, was through a platform at AOL. Then it moved over to LiveJournal and I had a following with a few other friends. Livejournal gave me the ability to really explore writing the personal and internal emotions that helped me to transform to who I am today. After deliberation, about 3 and a half years ago, I decided to move parts of the journal over, and start www.girlmeetsgeek.com. It started out as a journal to why I wasn’t married and ended as an internal look into myself, business and passion. I think GirlmeetsGeek is the culmination of who I was, what I was passionate about and how I was living it out loud.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to creating new content? How do you overcome it?

I don’t write, unless I feel something in my fingertips telling me to. I find, that when I let my passion take control, my writing is far better than if I allow myself to blankly type words. I never blog about my daily life, only about moments that matter most. I don’t want to ‘water down’ my writing with mediocrity and I’m too busy to worry about blogging daily. I have other posts I can pull from if my focus is on business, or I have too many deadlines that week. What keeps my writing, ‘fresh’ and ‘unique,’ is the emotion behind it. I always taken on submissions, (I believe GirlmeetsGeek should be a place of words, not just MY words,) so other writers are always welcome. I have always found that good writers are open to the influences around them. I’m a news junkie and I write a lot of my pieces on Social Justice and giving voice to the oppressed. GirlmeetsGeek has become an emotional platform for the forgotten, the passionate and the unvocalized.

People blog for different reasons. What is the most rewarding aspect of maintaining the Girl Meets Geek blog?

I write, because it’s in my blood. I don’t believe in the word, “Blog.” I’m a writer. I’m not a ‘blogger.” I think by using the terms, ‘blog,’ or ‘blogger,’ we limit ourselves. I’m convinced if you cut me open, letters and punctuation would flow from my veins. You could say I blog, because I feel best when my thoughts form into words, hit my keyboard screen and I can read them back and think, “YES.” GirlmeetsGeek is for me, only- it always has been. You’ll notice, there’s no ads on my site and I’m not involved in any communities. I wanted to establish something different for GirlmeetsGeek. I wanted the words, the emotion and the quality to speak for itself, but only because I wanted to put authentic words out there. At the end of the day, the site is for my daughter and I. I want her to see a woman who overcame tremendous odds to grow as a human being and create the world she wanted.

What is one thing you hope your readers learn/understand from reading it?

I hope whomever visits, realizes that we all have greatness in them. I started writing stories when I was in the First Grade. I knew from a young age, that words were my currency to the world. We all have gifts, and they only resonate with others if we put passion and purpose behind those gifts. David Brauer from MinnPost once told me, “Dream Responsibly.” I’ve taken that to heart. GirlmeetsGeek is my Responsible Dream. Our lives are only measured by what we DO with them, not what we WANT out of them. I hope GirlmeetsGeek inspires others to take action and create the future they want.

Bloggers often draw inspiration from each other. What other blogs do you enjoy reading? Who are your favorite local Twin Cities bloggers?

My google reader currently has thousands of new posts in it. I desperately need to catch up on my reading. Since I’m a news junkie, sites I read daily include: Minnpost.com; Minnesota Independent, Minnesota Public Radio and my daily dose of Women of HR. I also like to check out the bloggers highlighted on the Twin Cities Spark!

What do you love the most about living in the Twin Cities and why?

I love the community that Minneapolis and St. Paul offers. It’s not the restaurants, (though wonderful,) the shopping, or the sights- it’s the people. Minnesota truly has the kindest and closest-knit people I’ve ever met. I’m a ‘lifer’ here. I don’t think I’ll ever leave.

What aspect of Spring in Minnesota are you most looking forward too?

I’m looking forward to seeing the sunshine through my daughter’s hair. There’s been a moment every year, where Ava and I are on the grass outside and I look at her, and she’s smiling and her hair is nothing but GOLD. There’s something about the glisten, the warmth and the together-time of summer; skirts and high heels. I’m a winter-lover, through and through, but there are adventures in the summer that I can’t conquer when it’s -20 outside. I love hitting up local farmer’s markets, Como Zoo and traveling up to Lake Superior. My summes have been defined by the memories of years before. Hopefully this summer is no different!

Upside My Head (Pay Attention Now)

Upside My Head (Pay Attention Now) blogger Ann Freeman is a 54-year-old artist, connector and wannabe DJ. She is also a mother, grandmother and “queer girl extraordinaire.” She is a white girl in a brown family and a mostly brown community of friends. As a result, her life crosses a lot of interesting intersections. At Upside My Head (Pay Attention Now), this Minneapolis resident writes about and discusses race, age, sexuality, politics, culture, life, art, music, motherhood, grandmotherhood and more. Pretty much anything goes when Ann starts typing.

What specifically drew you to blogging?

I was interested in exploring the medium as a way to engage in conversation about a variety of issues in which I have been interested over time. I like that it is easy to create attractive pages and provide words, photos, audio, or video, and links to related content. I launched my blog on a whim one night. I was at the computer with headphones on and some great music playing (Ruthie Foster, if I recall correctly) and I just went to Blogger and made it. I didn’t research the best blogging platform, didn’t really have a plan for content, or even the name (which I changed after a year, this link tells that story: Upside My Head (Pay Attention Now)). I just made it and went from there. Very reflective of my personal style. I do public relations for a living and having a personal blog is a terrific outlet for my own writing and opinions – and for my creative and wonky passions and interests.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to creating new content? How do you overcome it?

I am not particularly disciplined to post regularly. I vacillate between three and 10 posts a month. I’d like to be more consistent. I am a morning person with a day job, so it’s hard to get inspired to blog at night. I am more prolific if I get on the computer before work with a good cup of coffee. It helps to be thinking about subjects for a while so once I sit down to write I can kind of knock them out. I allow myself to do short easy blogs as well as longer, more thoughtful pieces to help with productivity as well as keep in interesting mix of subject matter rolling. I also try when I am inspired about something to drop everything and write. I may need to go back in later to edit, research, and finish, but at least I get the essence down when it is in my heart.

What is the most rewarding aspect of maintaining Upside My Head?

Once every 20 posts or so the magic happens. I write something and it resonates enough with people that it gets shared and lots of visits, and most important, comments. I have a small blog with a small but loyal following so when a post breaks out of that it’s exciting. I feel like I’ve made connections. The post that comes to mind that has had the biggest impact is “I don’t know my Somali neighbors.” The comment thread is far more interesting that the post itself and it was read by and shared among many Somali and other East African folks. A cross cultural conversation emerged, and best of all, I made a couple of new friends from the Somali/East African community.

What is one thing you hope your readers learn/understand from reading your blog?

My blog covers a variety of topics. I have the good fortune to live a life that exists on the intersections of many different communities. I have developed a perspective over the years that is specific to life on the intersections. I hope that readers are sometimes able to see things from a different point of view because of that, or to see parts of themselves reflected in my posts. I am a community-builder at heart and this blog is at its essence, a celebration of community.

Bloggers often draw inspiration from each other. What other blogs do you enjoy reading? Who are your favorite local Twin Cities bloggers?

One of my biggest inspirations is Erica Mauter who has been a long-time Twin Cities blogger. She is probably best know for fresh.mn, but is present all over the Web. She has a page that lists where you can find her. She is a friend, and someone who I learn from all the time.

Other blogs and bloggers who inspire me include Racialicious – the intersection of race and pop culture, Jack & Jill Politics, anything by Baratunde Thurston, This Week in Blackness, The Bilerico Project, Pam’s House Blend – Front Page, Tim Wise (on white privilege), Bao Phi, and TSUNAMEE. The bloggers are from all over the country and blog on a variety of topics, but most involve lively conversation on current events. I have not reached out to meet and connect with more local bloggers and would like to do that. I have the good fortune to be one of the bloggers that is part of MinnPost’s Minnesota Blog Cabin. The content for the daily Blog Cabin post is drawn from a large pool of local bloggers so I have learned a lot more about who is out there in our community, but have not yet built relationships.

What do you love the most about living in the Twin Cities and why?

I live in South Minneapolis and cannot think of a better place to live as a queer woman, to have been a white parent raising two children of color (I’m now a grandma!), an arts lover, a bicycler, rollerblader, and a water lover. We have great people here. It is way too white here, but I am privileged to call a very diverse group of fabulous people my community of friends. This winter was brutal, but the other three seasons are divine and the reward for enduring all that darkness and cold. I love the politics of Minnesota. At one point we had we had the completely eccentric Jesse Ventura serving as governor, and our senators were the late great progressive Paul Wellstone and the very conservative Rod Grams. Where else does that happen? And the grassroots activism here is ever inspiring.

What aspect of Spring in Minnesota are you most looking forward too?

I have been to almost every May Day parade and celebration for the last 30 years. It’s completely a rite of passage for me. I took my kids there when they were babies. I take my granddaughter now. It’s on our annual list of “adventures with Grandma.” I like having roots like that, a deeply felt sense of place, of community, and of home.

Homeless Pennies

Twin Cities blogger Penny Chase (not her real name!) explores unconventional money savings plans through her Homeless Pennies website and blog. One of her favorite methods of squirreling away cash is finding it on the ground and hiding it in a coffee can. No, really! She has been rescuing homeless pennies for years, but she has actually found more than $170 dollars just laying around on the ground. When she isn’t blogging and vlogging about her not-so-normal savings plan, she works in the corporate office of a health and fitness company.

Your blog’s purpose is to offer insight into saving money in creative ways. What specifically drew you to blogging about this topic?

Oh man, who doesn’t love finding a 10 dollar bill on the ground and telling all of your friends about it? Exactly. Essentially, I had always been someone who found money; anywhere and all the time. I realized though, that not everyone walked around looking on the ground for money. I would tell them I found a 10 dollar bill and they would love hearing about it. The bills and coins added up and eventually I decided it was time to share the wealth (pun intended).

Who or what are your top resources for the money-saving ideas you share with your readers?

My main resource is the people who drop their money on the ground and forget to pick it up (special shout out to those folks!). On a more serious note though, I don’t actually read too many personal finance blogs. I stick to a few nationally known blogs, but tend to get most of my additional tips-and-tricks from a lot of readers. They’ll tell me where they find money on the ground or who has a great deal or coupon. Power to the people. They speak, I provide the microphone.

What are your three favorite creative tactics for making extra money to pay off debt?

Number one is clearly rescuing Homeless Pennies. For any newbies to my blog, this means finding money on the ground almost every day; saving it up and paying off your debt one coin at a time. Secondly, I love coupons. Knowing how not to overuse coupons is critical since it’s tempting to buy everything at a discount, even if you don’t need it. But when you use them wisely, they save you a lot of money. I love going to the grocery store and seeing $10-$15 come off of my bill. Great feeling. I also love thrifting; the local Goodwill is my best friend. The one near me has a lot of brand name items with tags still on them. So for a girl who loves fashion and wants to buy another dress for every new event she has to go to, it helps control the cost.

What is one thing you hope your readers learn/understand from reading Homeless Pennies?

Talking about money doesn’t have to be boring and full of financial-jargon you don’t understand. It’s a lot of fun, when you make it fun. Also, there’s a ton of money out there on the ground. It’s waiting for someone, so please pick it up before I beat you to it.

What blogs do you enjoy reading? Who are your favorite local Twin Cities bloggers?

Although I’m probably categorized as a personal finance blogger, I love reading a lot of DIY blogs. I guess I have an inner-HGTV goddess waiting to come out. But keeping it local, Bob Stanke’s blog has really helped keep me on track. I enjoy reading his reviews and insights on social media; tips, tricks and tools he uses and I’m a sucker for his goal setting. He has absolutely mastered the art of setting goals, tracking and achieving them. It keeps me on my toes with my own goal setting; I often find myself saying, “Hey, I need to do that.”

What do you love the most about living here in the Twin Cities Metro Area and why?

It’s so darn beautiful here. Really, it is. We have a great metropolitan area where people can enjoy the city-life, but still manage to see plenty of trees, lakes, trails and other great scenery. I can’t say I love it too much in the middle of winter (can I get an “ufta”?), but come spring and summer, it’s more than worth it.

Anything big planned for your blog in 2011?

I have a lot of changes happening in 2011. Most notably, I redesigned the entire site to allow more features and pages beyond just the blog. The rest of this year will be spent adding more videos and interactive content to keep things entertaining. If people fell asleep as much as I did in accounting class (sorry, Dad), it helps to mix it up. Make money, watch a video, repeat.

High Plains Thrifter

Meghan McAndrews writes High Plains Thrifter. As the name may suggest, this blog discusses thrift-store shopping in the Twin Cities and thrifting-related topics. She may be a native of Wisconsin, she has fallen in love with her adopted home in South Minneapolis. Meghan has an insatiable appetite for vintage clothes and a fascination with cast-offs from by-gone eras. She loves it so much, she has become the co-owner at Mighty Swell Vintage. In addition to thrifting, Meghan loves road trips, taking pictures, and creating things. She even shares the occasional recipe.

What was the inspiration behind starting the High Plains Thrifter blog?

I wanted to share my love for thrift-store shopping, and also provide some service in the form of store reviews, maps, tips posts, etc. Since I thrift all the time, why not share what I have learned so others can benefit? There are a lot of great fashion and style blogs in the Twin Cities (not to mention nationally), but no one here was filling the thrift/fashion niche…so I did!

You joined the blogosphere in March of last year. What factors led to your decision to begin blogging?

I was so reluctant to get started, it took me literally seven months to get posting. I thought I needed to know more about computers and all that jazz, but more than that, I was nervous about making parts of my life public. I’m naturally a pretty private person and I knew that starting the blog would force me to change a little. Luckily, I have friends who were super supportive and they pushed, prodded, and nagged me along when I was dragging my feet about getting going. I can’t believe it will be a year in March!

What are some of your favorite local thrift stores to shop for unique clothing?

The Salvation Army downtown is the best for beginner thrifters. The basement is full of new Target merchandise, so if you’re not into vintage or old stuff, you can just head straight downstairs and start shopping. The upstairs is huge, and although the prices have been hiked recently, you can still find some really nice deals on clothes, housewares and furniture there. Some other go-tos are the Savers on Lake Street and in St. Cloud, the Unique Thrift Store in St. Paul and the Family Pathways stores up in the northern ‘burbs/along 35W.

What other blogs do you enjoy reading and why? Who are your favorite local Twin Cities bloggers?

Nationally: I learn a lot about writing by reading good writers, and Meg and Jenny at Fashion for Writers are good. Zoe’s posts at Haiku Ambulance are so succinct and funny, plus, she knows how to dress. Style-wise, Fancy Treehouse is right up my alley, and Coury is like, angelically pretty. And, since it’s public knowledge that I’m a total sap, I’ll name Kissssing as one of my most favorite photo blogs. Locally: My pal Mary is hilarious and her fashion blog, Art of Wore, is awesome. Dirty Hair Halo is a rock star of the fashion blogging world, and I love her thrifty DIY ideas. And although our styles are different, I really admire what Sally McGraw does over at Already Pretty. I’ve gotten a lot of good tips on blogging from Elizabeth Dehn, who runs the top-notch beauty blog Beauty Bets (where I’m a guest contributor every Wednesday). I love the simplicity and beauty of onethirtyfive. Each post is one photo, accompanied by 35 words, put together by two extremely talented people. And of course, I have to give a shout-out to my fellow thrift-store blogger, JD Peddycoart, who runs Things I Found At the Thrift Store, which I also love.

You’re a proud Wisconsin native, living in the Land of 10,000 Lakes. What do you love the most about the Twin Cities / Minnesota and why?

There is so much to do in Minneapolis! No matter what your scene is–fashion, music, eating out, yoga, tap-dancing, you name it–you can be busy every night of the week here and I’m into that. But, there aren’t as many of the hassles that come with living in a larger city. I love my eight-minute commute, and being able to afford a house with a yard at such a young ace. And although the winters are awful, nothing beats the explosion of activity in the summertime. We all collectively, instinctively know that we have to get in as much fun possible before holing up again for another winter.

As someone who could still be considered a beginner blogger, what advice do you have for other people thinking about joining the blogosphere?

Be an active part of the community. Comment when you have something to say. Put yourself out there and introduce yourself to other local bloggers. Ask questions when you need help. Be open to working and collaborating with others. Good photography and visuals are important. Keep your content focused. Read over your posts before making them public. Continually expand your reading list. And most importantly, be authentic.

Fresh Tart

Minneapolis resident Stephanie Meyer is the blogger behind Fresh Tart. Stephanie believes that cooking is not optional: In order to eat healthfully, affordably, and spend quality time with loved ones, people must cook their own food, not constantly eat prepackaged or fast foods. Through the Fresh Tart blog, she shares delicious, nutritious recipes and food philosophies that help readers learn to eat in a more healthful way. In addition to writing the Fresh Tart blog, she also posts Tuesday recipes at Dara & Co./Minnesota Monthly magazine with a focus on local, seasonal ingredients.

If you had $200 extra dollars right now, what kitchen utility or luxury items that you don’t own would you purchase?

Not exactly a kitchen item, but certainly food blog relevant – I’d put it toward a Nikon D7000 camera. I don’t need it, but I sure would like it.

Without taking into account nutritional needs, if you could eat one food everyday, what food would you choose and why?

Bacon! Does everyone say that? It’s fabulous on its own, of course, but it elevates so many ordinary dishes to sublime for very little effort. I’m all about the magic of pork fat.

What specifically drew you to blogging?

I’d been thinking about how to turn my love of home cooking into something more than a hobby, and then happened to read the book Julie & Julia. I started a blog the day I finished the book, January 6, 2006.

What is the most rewarding aspect of maintaining the Fresh Tart blog?

Connecting with people. Having people cook the things I make up and then let me know how much they enjoyed the dish. Or what didn’t work for them. Or how they’d make it their own. I also love seeing the photographs I take visually paired with the recipe – it means a lot to me to see it all together. Sometimes I open my site and can’t believe it’s mine, despite all the work I have yet to do and all the things I’d like to improve. It’s an incredible thing, to put your food out for everyone to look at.

Bloggers often draw inspiration from each other. What other blogs do you enjoy reading? Who are your favorite local Twin Cities bloggers?

A group called the Minnesota Food Bloggers has a Facebook page and is getting together for the first time on February 7, 2011, at 128 Cafe in St. Paul. We’re all having so much fun finding each other and finally meeting up. I can’t begin to give you my list – there are more than 40 of us so far! I’ll say this – I hosted dinner this week for Amanda Rettke of I Am Baker, Shaina Olmanson of Food For My Family, Brenda Score of A Farm Girl’s Dabbles, Crystal Grove of Cafe Cyan, Kelli Abrahamian of I Had A Delicious Time, and Molly Snyder of The Snyder Five. I love those girls and their blogs. Overall, I’m most inspired by funny raves and/or gorgeous pics.

What do you love the most about living in the Twin Cities and why?

Hmm, that’s a tough question on a 5-degree day. Not winter. I do love the vibe, my neighborhood, the food scene, the schools, the ease of living. I love that Minnesotans aren’t jaded, that they appreciate and strive for beauty and goodness in the world. I love the bike paths and farmers’ markets. I love that people are sophisticated but not relentlessly materialistic.


Twin Cities resident Nicole Harrison writes the SocialNicole blog. She is a dichotomy, torn between a desire to make the world a better place and an entrepreneurial spirit. As a result, she spent almost a decade working in nonprofits while also working as a marketing consultant. During her work in this sector, she honed her expertise in social media and online marketing. Now as the Principal of SocialNicole, she works with businesses helping them to connect, engage and grow through social media and digital strategy.

What was the inspiration behind starting the Social Nicole blog?

It started as simply a blog about connecting and building relationships to help grow businesses and nonprofits. The actual blog title is The Art of Being Social.

How do you think an avid reader would describe your blog when they recommend it to their best friends?

The Art of Being Social is a great resource if you are looking for basic social media/online connection and marketing tips as well as networking and strategic relationship building tips.

What social media platform or networking option do you like the most for helping to build relationships, either between individuals or companies and their clients?

The platform chosen for a specific client depends on the client, their identified audience, goals and resources to manage social media or outsource it. My favorite social networking platform is Twitter – which has so much power to connect people who may never find one another in a traditional platform such as Facebook, Linkedin, etc. Twitter is amazing because it allows the user to build their own communities around whatever topics are of interest to them.

Who or what are your top resources for social media and networking news and information?

Social Media Examiner, Social Media Today, CopyBlogger, Mashable, Read Write Web

What is one important thing that you have learned about professional relationship building that you could share with our readers?

You need to constantly provide value to your network. You need to look for ways to “feed” your network so that they appreciate you and see you as a valuable and worthwhile part of their network.

What other blogs do you enjoy reading and why?

Josh Braaten Big Picture Web, PR Revolution, David Erickson e-strategy blog, Beauty Bets, Luck of the Law

What do you love the most about the Twin Cities / Minnesota and why?

I love the people who live here. It is such a warm and friendly place to live. Community is highly valued and people really like to reach out and offer help to their neighbors. I also love the seasons. I look forward to each one and find every season offers such a unique experience.

Daughter Number Three

Daughter Number Three is responsible for the Daughter Number Three blog. Of course, right? Well, this writer maintains her blog incognito and has asked for her name to not be revealed, which is alright by us at the Twin Cities Spark! Not surprisingly, she is the third of four daughters. Raised in a rural area outside of a small town in upstate New York, she is now living in the Twin Cities area, making media and immersed in other people’s media. Her blog is her method of creative self-expression, often taking the form of stunning cultural observations and poking fun at other people’s bad writing mistakes.

What specifically drew you to blogging?

I’m one of those failed creative writers who thought she would be a novelist, but somehow never got started. Job, kid, life all happened in the meantime. In 2007 I took six months off work and promised myself writing would be a goal for that time, including setting up a blog. But when the leave ended, I hadn’t written much.

I should say I love newspapers and magazines, but I have the bad habit of talking back to them, and I’d been keeping a clip file for years that contained what I considered great examples of writing and argument, or really terrible mistakes and oddities. Finally, in December of 2007 I reached my tipping point on blog procrastination: it was inspired by a recipe in Parade magazine that included a photo of a raw, stuffed turkey breast that looked like an insect larva. Somehow, that was enough to finally get me to start my blog.

What is your biggest challenge when it comes to creating new content? How do you overcome it?

Overcoming mental fatigue from having a job, a family and a significant amount of volunteer work. More often than not, though, working on my blog helps me deal with the stresses of everything else because it’s different from the rest. It’s a chance to say what I think about things without having to berate my family. I get to make connections among the ideas in books I’ve been reading, which was my favorite part of being in college. It’s a place to share the things that amuse or outrage me about the world… and there are a lot of both!

Sometimes when I’m stuck, I look through the categories I use on the blog and think, I haven’t written anything for this one in a while. What can I add? Other times, I admit to looking through my photos and putting up something easy. Just once I posted a photo of my cat because I was too tired to do anything else.

I try to balance the long with the short; the thoughtful with the light-hearted. It’s a struggle sometimes. I think of these two types of posts as stock and flow and use that idea as a spur to work a little harder to create a piece of stock as often as I can.

I kicked caffeine about a year before I started the blog. I’ve recently discovered that just a small amount of that evil drug once in a while makes it much easier to write.

What do you hope readers take away from reading Daughter Number Three?

I don’t explore a single topic the way some blogs do. In fact, I have a hard time saying what my blog is about, except it doesn’t cover what I had for breakfast or my family’s life. I don’t review products. There’s a lot of media commentary (much of it local), examples of good and bad technology, and funny language usage. I have a lingering love of young adult fiction, so those types of books crop up pretty often, along which a lot of nonfiction.

I hope my readers feel as though they’re part of a conversation. I hope they realize I challenge myself intellectually. I try to push myself over the edge of cognitive dissonance as much as I can stand it. We all should.

How has blogging changed your life?

Writing every day is a discipline that’s been good for me. I fear I’ll be one of the unlucky ones who are susceptible to Alzheimer’s, so I try to keep my mind moving.

It has put me in touch with some other local and nonlocal writers, which is fun. It has made me read more nonfiction than I probably would have.

New media theorist Clay Shirky talks about the “cognitive surplus” – the mental capacity we all have left over when we work only an eight-hour day. From the 1950s on, most of it was poured into watching television. I watch a lot less television now, because I’m using up most of my surplus on the blog.

Bloggers often draw inspiration from each other. What other blogs do you enjoy reading? Who are your favorite local Twin Cities bloggers?

Some of my local favorites don’t write very often, but here goes:

A Little Brown Blog

Maggie Koerth-Baker, excellent science writer at Boing Boing – she’s local!

The Deets

Across the Great Divide (Charlie hasn’t been writing much lately, but his archives are great!)

The Same Rowdy Crowd (although many of their commenters drive me crazy)

The Heavy Table

Simple Good and Tasty

Fair Food Fight

MinnPost, especially Susan Perry on health issues

David Steinlicht

Blissed-Out Grandma

What do you love the most about living in the Twin Cities / Minnesota and why?

I’m a transplant from upstate New York who knew just about nothing of Minnesota before I moved here in the 1980s, but I’ve found it great living along the boundary between the Big Woods and the tall grass prairie. I love our huge number of food co-ops, the active nonprofit community, and our excellent theaters and museums. And book stores. I support my habit at stores like Micawber’s, Uncle Hugo’s, Red Balloon, The Book House, and Common Good Books.