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Fitting It All In

6 Mar

My husband and I got a puppy over Christmas. She’s a five-month old yellow lab and is the sole reason the Caribou Coffee down the street from us is boasting huge profits for the last three months.

How does society expect you to work full time, attend and participate in industry networking events, maintain a healthy lifestyle by going to the gym (or yoga classes), blog for yourself, play with a puppy enough to exhaust her, have a sit down dinner with your spouse/family (which is a must in our household), entertain an attention-deprived cat, catch up on a favorite TV show, call friends and family to see what’s new, and still get enough sleep to function the next day? Plus, eventually, we’ll add a kid or two into the mix. Yet somehow, we’re still able to fit it all in.

For many business owners, digital marketing is what gets axed from the plan – whether it be because of resources, time or finances. Websites are sub-par and social media profiles are lacking in appearance, engagement (or existence). But your online presence is one that nearly every single one of your customers will see in one way or the other. From someone Googling an address (local search), to searching for contact information (schema updated), shopping online (website), researching (blog), or interacting (social media), your online presence is become vital to adapt and thrive in a modern marketing world.

Digital marketing is an ongoing task, no doubt. However, minor updates here and there can do wonders for your online visibility. For social media profiles, make sure your cover photos, about & contact information are up-to-date, and you link to your website. When you run a promotion, have a sale, launch a new product, receive an accolade or have community exposure, write a quick post. Social media is a free (for now) publicity tool where you can control the messaging about your brand. For your website, check for broken links and regularly update content on your pages to reflect your current business products, services or practices. Always make sure contact information is current so your customer can contact you!

As you evaluate your company and your marketing needs, don’t forget about online. Online and mobile visibility is only going to grow, and with the ability to control your presence, the decision should be easy. Cutting corners shouldn’t be about sacrificing your business’ presence; if you’re strapped for time, small changes here and there should suffice. But don’t forget about it altogether. You’re only hurting yourself in the long run when you’re stuck playing a game of catch up.

If we can somehow find the time to keep an insanely energetic puppy and a self-proclaimed attention-deprived cat entertained thoroughly enough, on top of all of our other daily obligations, your business will thrive when you find time to fit digital marketing in.

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Worst Winter Ever

28 Feb

This winter has been the worst ever. But that’s not a secret to anyone in the Midwest, particularly the state of Minnesota. We’ve had above average snowfalls and waaay below average temperatures. Like subzero temperatures for MORE THAN 40 DAYS already – and it’s only February.

I won’t lie. It’s been a struggle. I don’t deal with cold very well as it is. Combine that, with below average temperatures and a puppy with the world’s smallest bladder, I’ve been consistently wearing at least two pairs of pants (if leggings are counted as pants these days) and multiple sweaters to keep warm – and that’s just when I’m indoors! We’ve been doing everything we can to keep warm without cranking up the heat because our electric bills have been through the roof. My solution? Snuggle with furry friends.

Max lap cat

You stay warm, Minneapolis.

Inspired by many

13 May

For the past five or six years, the gals on my mom’s side of the family have gathered on Mother’s Day morning to participate in the Susan G. Komen Walk for the Cure at the Mall of America. Each year, the event gets progressively bigger – and more inspiring. The signs, the people, the groups, the support and the atmosphere all conjure to create a memorable experience worth it for anyone to take part in.

Walk for the Cure

While I only know of two people in my entire extended family who have conquered breast cancer, it is two too many. I am thankful for how healthy our family is, but am inspired with the strength of the families who have witnessed loved ones lose or defeat this horrible illness. I feel strongly about kicking (any and all) cancer in the butt – and truly hope for a cure so these walks aren’t needed anymore. But until that day comes, I will continue to participate in such an inspiring event – and I think you should too.

Growing Up

10 Mar

This past weekend – with the weather’s cooperation – I had the opportunity to be reunited with some of my dearest friends from college. One of these good friends, Brad, and his fiance Kira were married on the beautiful shorelines of west Maui’s Kaanapali Beach at the Royal Lahaina Resort on Monday, February 25, 2013. While Pat and I tried everything we could to make it Maui (who wouldn’t WANT to go to Hawaii?!), it wasn’t in the cards. Thankfully, Brad and Kira decided to have a ‘welcome home,’ traditional wedding reception once they returned to the mainland for friends and family who weren’t able to jet across the pacific for their beautiful Maui vows.

Their wedding reception was a perfect mix of Hawaii-meets-Wisconsin. The ballroom was lined with turquoise-blue lights, creating a tropical underwater ambiance; there was fresh fruit adorning the outskirts of the ballroom, with a heavy focus on pineapples; the welcome table donned a beautiful surfboard, while the table centerpieces were beautiful pear-shaped glass jars filled with seashells with a starfish resting on the outside. Meanwhile, cheese and beer were a-plenty, keeping true to their Wisconsin-flair.

The thing I love most about this group of friends is we can pick up right where we left off; there’s no awkward silence or conversation about “what’s new” with each other’s lives. We say a couple quick things about what’s going on with work, the latest with our families and go on as if we just saw each other last weekend. This is true friendship. The smiles grow and there is never a shortage of laughter.

Three musketeers

The three musketeers are now all married. I’m the one wearing the dress.

Madison friends

Madison family – reunited.

I can’t urge this to new graduates enough: keep in touch with your core group of friends from college, even if its one big get together for one weekend per year. Just do it. College is where your closest friendships and professional relationships began to blossom; don’t lose track of people you lived in some of the crappiest conditions with. These people were your family in your home away from home. The memories of the crappy houses get funnier as each year passes, and even though you may not live with or next door to each other anymore, the strong friendships (or for us, our ‘Madison family’ ties) still remain. Even though its been six years since (most of us) we graduated, we still make time for each other’s life events – and the random annual get together. And I wouldn’t miss any of them for the world.

Thankful

28 May

I am a lucky girl. I have so much in my life to be thankful for. It is amazing how quickly your life can change in a matter of moments – and given some recent events in my life, I realized just how truly lucky I am.

  • I am thankful for the chance to meet and marry such a wonderful person, that just so happens to be my best friend too.
  • I am thankful for a job that allows me to have a roof over my head and the peace of mind in a medical emergency.
  • I am thankful for John, Ted, Jennifer, Josh and Chris for taking a chance on me and giving me a job that I knew nearly nothing about. I have learned SO much and am anxious to meet the next challenge.
  • I am thankful for such wonderful friends and family that I know care deeply about me.
  • I am thankful for a moderately healthy (obese) cat who keeps us on our toes and always makes us laugh.
  • I am thankful for the protection from a greater power that kept me as safe as could be when danger fell upon me.
  • I am thankful for the freedoms I have as a citizen of the United States – and with that, get to live out my American dream.
  • And lastly, but certainly not least, I am thankful for the servicemen and women – past, present and future – for everything they do to keep our country safe and protect our freedoms.

Take a moment this Memorial Day to thank a soldier – and also remember why we have the freedoms we do. While most people give thanks in November, what are you thankful for this Memorial Day?

New Year’s Resolution

26 Jan

I’m usually not a fan of making New Year’s resolutions, for more reasons than one. Half of the time they’re just broken promises to yourself – and the other half of the time, you can’t remember what your resolutions were. This year, however, in attempts to keep things interesting for the palette, Pat (my husband) and I decided we would try to cook at least one new recipe each week this year. That’s like 52 new recipes?! Lucky for me, I have gotten a new Italian cookbook nearly every year since I moved away to college from my grandma. She’s too sweet. I sure hope Pat likes Italian food though – otherwise he’s kind of S.O.L. I feel like we all get stuck in a rut of making the same few dishes every week – and if you’re anything like me, you need a flavor change-up every once in a while.

The first recipe we took from one of the random Family Circle magazines that keep coming to our mailbox unexpectedly (they always say “thank you for being such a loyal subscriber” – little do they know I never signed up) – we certainly welcome the recipes and home decorating ideas though! I figured we could take a break from the Italian cookbooks before we even start with them, but naturally I’d find a recipe with pasta in it…

Pork Ragu & Bowtie Pasta

Fill and start slow cooker in the morning before you head out the door – shred the ribs into the sauce before serving.

Makes: 6 servings (plus 4 cups sauce for a second meal), Prep: 15 minutes, Slow Cook: on HIGH for 6 hours or LOW for 8 hours

2 cans (14.5 ounces each) Italian seasoned diced tomatoes

1 medium-sized onion, peeled and chopped

1 cup chopped carrots

4 cloves garlic, chopped

1 teaspoon salf

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

2 pounds country-style pork ribs

1/2 pound zucchini, diced — (we left this one out because neither one of us are big fans of zucchini)

1 pound whole-wheat bowtie pasta, cooked

1 cup reduced-fat Italian 4-cheese blend

Coat slow cooker bowl with nonstick cooking spray. Add tomatoes, onions, carrots, garlic, 1/2 teaspoon of salt, 1/4 teaspoon of the black pepper, oregano and red pepper flakes. Stir to combine. Add ribs and cover with sauce (scatter zucchini over the top, if you choose to keep them in the recipe).

Cover and cook on HIGH for 6 hours or LOW for 8 hours.

Remove ribs and shred meat. Discard bones and stir shredded meat back into the sauce; stir in the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt and 1/4 teaspoon of black pepper.

Stir half of the sauce (about 4 cups) into pasta, adding some of the cooking liquid, if desired. Stir in cheese and serve. Freeze extra for future.

This makes a GREAT meal for those of us on the go (let’s be honest, who isn’t?) – because it cooks while you’re gone and/or busy all day! I’m going to try to take pictures of each dish so you know what they should supposedly look like – and decide from the picture if it’s worth trying yourself. Unless Pat and Max get to the food presentation plates before I can snap a picture….

Bon appetit!

Hello… and Welcome!

23 Jan

Thank you for taking the time to read my ‘blog!’ It’s been a whirlwind few months and it is something that I’ve been wanting to start for some time – I figured, “why not now?” I’m hoping to post recipes my husband and I find/try, photographs through our adventures of learning how to use a DSLR camera, and my random musings I feel like sharing. Enjoy!