Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Interview w/ Mn Blogger - Monika Melsha at Mn Blogger Conference

Please follow this link & check out my recent "Get To Know" interview (9/11/2010) with David Erickson aka @derickson:

Interested in reading more about the 1st Mn Blogger Conference? Check out:My Lens Into The First Ever MN Blogger Conference

Saturday, September 25, 2010

Fall & all it's Local Glory

Williams-Sonoma is one of the few catalogs I love to leaf through when it arrives at the beginning of each season.

From the Williams-Sonoma October 2010 Catalog
Can't help but dream of all the treats we Moms love to make with the lusciously sweet and tart local apple varieties found here in Minnesota. Last week I found some yummy HoneyCrisp apples for the boys to eat from Fireside Orchard. Needless to say they disappeared very quickly from the refrigerator at a rate of 2-3 each day. I was planning to make some apple crisp with Sweet 16's I bought today from Novaks Orchard but Munchkin declared he liked them also just "to eat".

So remember these zucchini from last weekend's Farmers Market haul? It was time to get them shredded into sweet bread. 

 My own recipe is a banana zucchini, but I only wanted to do the latter so I found a standby recipe online, modified the spices slightly & ignored the call for nuts. (I never do nuts in my food - yes, I know who doesn't like nuts in food? That would be me.)


A wonderful way to spend part of a peaceful Saturday Fall afternoon don't you think? And when that project was finished, I could sit back & enjoy these lovelies we picked out today from Market Flowers at the Minneapolis Farmers Market.

What things to you enjoy doing on these lovely fall weekends?

If you liked this, you might also enjoy: Wordless Wednesday - Making Spring Rolls w/ Garden Goodness

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Not So Wordless Wednesday: Sample the Beauty - Mpls Farmers Market

When we hit the Minneapolis Farmers Market this past weekend, my 3 year old son actually enjoyed the experience, unlike his visit earlier this season.  I certainly did & had a blast capturing the beauty of it all!

Gourds a Plenty

 Indian Corn

Things that go bump...

Not your average...

Gorgeous Carrots

Brussel Sprouts

Who knew they grew on trees?!

Is that Yellow/Orange Cauliflower?

Coral-Like texture

Prickly Blooms

So Tropical

Kale & Friends

Vibrant Color Galore

So many varieties, textures & colors

Lunch For Two!

Locally Grown HoneyCrisp are the Best!

I can almost smell the bread baking!

Saturday, September 18, 2010

Back to Blogging Day 5: What Blogging Means to You

The last "Back to Blogging" exercise is about sharing what blogging means to me as well as how I think blogging has changed my life.

Blogging for me is the 21st century blank book. It's also a place of solace, like my "old school" journal writing - only better & less introspective. The time I spend typing away in front of the computer late at night, writing concepts for posts in a small notebook while riding on the bus or sitting at my desk at work, is like a drug.  It soothes away the stress of the day, while clearing my head, so that I have more time and energy to take on "life". 

I've always been a reader & have considered myself a writer since childhood.  Hope and nutrient value can be found in books. Writing is about communicating your passion.  I love the processes of contemplation, dissection and re-interpretation. 

Journal excerpt from 2001

I love how the ideas develop from a simple thought scribbled on a page in a couple of sentences & then are transformed into a complete blog post. Blogging is also fun!

Sally Forth comic strip from 1996
As a relative newbie to the world of blogging, I confess I have a lot to learn, but I am confident that I made the right choice am am open to any advice other long-time online writers/bloggers have to offer.
I'm in this:
  • to be myself - to find my own unique voice; 
  • to share my perspectives on the books I read , the people I encounter who have influenced me,  marketing trends, life's ups & downs as well as parenthood;
  • and to share my corner of the world through my photography. 
No two perceptions are alike, which is exactly why no two blogs I've ever read are alike. Blogging has changed my life, by providing exponential reach for the growing collection of words I have to offer. We all have our own stories to tell and I'm no exception. It's allowed me to find this community of like-minded individuals who thrive on the freedom of the written word and the power of sharing the personal experience. For that I am truly grateful.

Back To Blogging Day 4: Who Inspires You?

If you are hopping over from The Blog Frog & had your heart set on a brand new post, check back next week to read about a woman I only met this past summer - Danielle Pellicano, who I learned recently completed the Ironman in Wisconsin on September 11th. I'm cheating a little because I needed more time to write the "who inspires me" post about her. 

In the mean time, many of you may have missed this recap about someone who has been to hell & back & survived despite the experience. I wrote this post about a woman who had to deal with a horrific set of circumstances that affected her very high profile husband & changed their lives as a couple & as a family forever.  I had the opportunity to meet her, and was in awe of her strength & perseverance.  She is a huge inspiration to me, to so many military wives and women across the country where she travels to speak, promote her writing & their foundation.

An evening with Lee Woodruff - My SmartTalk ConnectedConversations Recap

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Back To Blogging Day 2: "Flip The Script" - A Must Read Post

It's day two of Blog Frog's Back to Blogging exercises. We were tasked with choosing a post which we wish more people had read, explaining why it was so important to us.

(A sappy title - I know. I should have thought of something much more enticing for sure - perhaps like "Flip The Script.")
Last Sunday was Oscar night.  I don't normally spend 3+ hours glued to the tube awaiting the results or critiquing the gowns & this year was no exception. I do, however like to know who won the major award categories. There were a number of things that made watching those final categories enticing, including Sandra Bullock's and Gabourey Sidibe Best Actress nominations for The Blind Side & Precious respectively.

Sandra received a Worst Actress Razzie Award for her role in “All About Steve” literally a day before winning the Best Actress award for her work on The Blind Side. I loved watching her Barbara Walters interview prior to the awards & then her acceptance speech upon winning her Oscar.  She has such incredibly believable wit, candor, humor & warmth in her thoughts & words. She makes you want to understand, trust & love who she really is inside - beneath all the layers that we've seen on & off the screen. We want to believe her when she speaks of her husband Jesse James "having her back" and what that means to her. Even Nate Berkus described her the other day on Twitter as "funny, open, warm and sweet."

Gabourey has been quoted in the past as saying "People look at me and don't expect much. I expect a lot." She went into the auditions for the role with a lot to gain & nothing to lose. She didn't let the fact that this role was her very first stop her from giving an extraordinary performance, even a career defining one. It was her once in a lifetime opportunity & she wasn't letting it pass her up. She is truly grounded & focused on her goals, with her self esteem intact.  

"I will not let anybody's opinion destroy me." - Gabourey Sidebe

She should have a long & very bright future ahead of her, as long as she continues to keep it all in perspective.

Striving to be the best, and thriving through change was my idea for this post. What I love about Sandra's win, is that she stepped out of her usual box & ventured into the uncertainty of a serious role.  It was a change, not something she was unfamiliar with because of the influence of her parents, but untested waters for her none-the-less. She found a way to not only survive the change, but she thrived on it.

Not every situation we encounter will have that element of familiarity, but we still need to embrace the uncertainties. When you stop and listen to the issues you'll always discover what within yourself of significance & value can be brought to the table. Only then will you to be able to rise to the occasion, make substantial progress & lead that vision for change. Let every opportunity to contribute to a "win" for promoting & leading through change, be like your own mini Oscar performance.
I wrote this back in March of this year, before my universe fell back into a routine of semi-normalcy. Unfortunately for Sandra B. her life was turned totally upside soon after this post was written & I claim no responsibility for her turn of bad luck! 

Today was a tough day at the office - the kind that has you second guessing your purpose & why fate has dealt you the hand your playing with. Every day we have to chose whether we will make it a positive and productive day, or whether we will let the negative "crap" get the better of us. 

The ideas behind this post really kept me focused & on track to welcome some positive events into my life.  The reality is those days will come & go and you have to push through them in order to get to the better days that will definitely come your way.  As hard as it can be at times it, life calls for you to alter your mindset in anticipation of the gifts that you are due.

I wish it was a post that reached more people because it's a part of life that affects us all at one time or another.  We all need to remember that it's within our power every time to "Flip The Script".

Back To Blogging Day 1: How it all Began

Below was my very first post:

About This Journey - February 18, 2010

I’ve always been a night owl so I thought it made sense to sort of summarize my days & recap my feelings, funny moments and any revelations or epiphanies which I experienced that day. Might be discussion on fb or twitter, things I read, kidisms, networking successes, breakthroughs with my job search, or even the lack there of.

There are so many people I've been "introduced" to in the past few months, as well as long time friends, who have inspired me to take this journey. Now that I've begun there's no time to look back.

Reading it now, I'm not sure I'd change much if I were to re-write it today. I'll admit - for a new blogger, it was brief, but overall, it made perfect sense at the time.

  • I stated my purpose & goals for starting a blog.

  • I published...or shipped if you will & didn't look back. (Linchpin style)

  • I quickly painted the scene of where I was at in life.

  • I started the process of finding my voice. 

It took every moment of the four months prior to decide to take those baby steps. Seven short months later, I'm finding my stride...building stamina and endurance. As an "online writer", (thanks to Patrick Rhone) I'm in this for the long haul.  


If you enjoyed this, you might also like: 

An evening with Lee Woodruff - My SmartTalk ConnectedConversations Recap

Sunday, September 12, 2010

My Lens Into The First Ever MN Blogger Conference

Today I was fortunate enough to be a part of the first ever MN Blogger Conference. A truly diverse group of individuals were in attendance.  See for yourself as they took this fun group photo us.  Not surprisingly, open spots filled up within a couple of hours. If this event didn't get the creative juices flowing ~ motivating you to step up your game & improve your blog writing, nothing will.
I had the opportunity to meet IRL so many people I've been conversing for on twitter for months. When will we have an opportunity such as this to have so many of us in the same room? Probably not till next year at this same event.

A special thank you goes out to the event planners/promoters: 
Katie ~  aka @kshoop on twitter
Suzi ~ aka @suzi_MN on twitter
Missy ~ aka @MarketingMamaMN on twitter
Arik ~ aka @arikhanson on twitter

Where to start.  The day began with a retrospective flavor thanks to a panel including some of Minnesota's blogging pioneers & moderated by one of my virtual mentors: David Erickson.
  • James Lileks who described blogging as "Unbridled narcissism",
  • Patrick Rhone, who confessed he has "more blogs than sense" and encourages us to coin ourselves "online writers and artists",
  • Teresa Boardman, who essentially created a new business model for realtors as a result of her blog,
  • and Nancy Lyons a "passionate geek and technology evangelist."
I absolutely loved the first break-out session I chose:  "Growing as Writers: Taking Your Blog Posts to the Next Level", lead by Kate Hopper - one of the few people I met today that does not tweet! I had a nice conversation with her before the final session of the day as well.  Kate teaches classes on Creative non-fiction & laid out four essential things that make up a successful blog post:
  1. Reflection: Looking back & processing in order to make sense of life's events.
  2. Apparent & Deeper Subject ~ What's on the surface vs. the real story.
  3. Attention to Craft ~ Language choice, using concrete details, sense of place.
  4. The Universal/Timelessness of meaning ~ the connections in the things we share & having some distance to reflect & a sense of digging or grappling to make sense of it all.
She stressed the importance of creating a story for your readers to latch on to.  What are a few of the most important tools to use to achieve that? Sensory details, Scene, Rituals & Photos.

Session #2 for me was a panel discussion on "Blogging for Business: Making Connections & Building Buzz" including  Kevin Hunt, Adam Singer, & Jamie Guse.  They work for & with a variety of sizes of organizations, so they brought a good mix of ideas to the table.

Some key tips: 
  • Build a roadmap & decide up front where you want to focus your attention.
  • Allocate resources across the organization.
  • The highest value is in discovering where your targets are already congregating.
  • If you are not "giving stuff away" or "offering discounts", you can still engage your audience by sharing your organization's stories & by encouraging your customers to tell the community about their own experiences.
  • Moderate comments, but don't eliminate all the negatives - Outline commenting guidelines for the community & then leverage your internal consumer relations tools to promptly & appropriately respond to issues & concerns.

During the lunch break  I had the honor of sitting down & doing a video interview with Dave Erickson.  I'm looking forward to sharing the link to it out here as soon as it's available. Check back often & watch for it!

After the afternoon keynote, Session 3 was "Analytics for Bloggers" with Aaron Landry.  I sat next to Jen of Growing with Graces and I bet from the notes she was furiously taking during this session that she just might post on this subject in the near future, so hop over & watch for it.  The key takeaways for me were to make better use of the Intelligence feature within Google Analytics as well as utilizing's URL shorteners in order to track additional post links that have been shared.

Ms. Erica Mauter did a laid back session #4 about "Generating Blog Content" & shared quite a few writing exercises to do in order to free up the creative lava when you get stuck, are new to blogging, or are feeling like you could use a new reason to continue blogging. She offered some great resources for daily inspiration, beyond simply getting "out of your pajamas"  like Twin Cities Daily Planet, &

I also participated earlier in the day (having photos taken for a new headshot) in the fundraising efforts @fortheloveofliz (liz logelin foundation) They were able to raise $550.00 in just a few hours.

The Closing Keynote "How my blog helped save my ass" was by Matt Logelin & I can't think of a better way to have ended the session. Matt's raw & vulnerable recount of the horrific experience of losing his wife, a day after the premature birth of his baby girl made us all laugh & cry at various intervals.  It was like coming full circle from the 1st session in that this was a story like none other & the scene was set for us as if we were living it ourselves.  It was heartwarming & heart-wrenching all at the same time.  Since I had only heard bits & pieces of his story from other bloggers in the past, I truly appreciated hearing it in Matt's own words. If you'd like to hear Matt recount his very personal story, just follow this link to the Up Take.

If you were unable to attend today's event hopefully this will give you a taste of why this was such a successful conference.  We all came away feeling energized & satisfied, like a seven course meal.  Here's to doing it all again same time next year.

UPDATE:  Jen's post Google Analytics 101 is now up on the MN Blogger Conference website, so check it out!

If you enjoyed this post, you might also like:

A #SethGodinMpls Inspired Re-Mix

How Relevant Are You? ...In the 21st Century Workplace

Angel In Our Midst

Friday, September 10, 2010

This Time Every Year

There are certain times of the year that are especially reflective for me and birthdays are just one example. Another year passes & you can't help but look back at your challenges & accomplishments - asking:

Was it a good year? 
Did my wishes come true? 
 Do I have any regrets? 
What would I have done differently?
What goals will remain on my list from the year before 
that have alluded me?

Even while all those thoughts fill your head, there are some individuals who you are thankful for; especially when they remind you of why your friendship has meant so much to them over the years.  One special individual sent me a lovely card this week and it totally made me smile. Here are my favorite lines:

"Each year is  number...Try counting the friendships you hold in your heart...count the good deeds that you so often do...count the things you've accomplished and kind words you've said... good books you have read...all the lives that you touch with your everyday caring that matters so much... the difference you've made will be perfectly clear..." - unknown

This old-school GenX-er is truly blessed! 

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Wordless Wednesday: MN State Fair - Through The Eyes Of My Son

It's been a couple of decades since I visited the MN State Fair, but it was my 3 year old son's first visit.  We all enjoyed the experience.  I hope you enjoy a few of our memories:

See you again next year!