A Magnolia Moment and Waco Highlights

Is that house one of those “fixer uppers”?
You have heard that before.

So we know the “fixer upper” phrase was around before we knew of Chip and Joanna, but it’s safe to say that this amazing couple can take the credit for making it a household phrase again.


I had the pleasure to join my Sister Trina in Dallas this November. That is a whole other blog post on Dallas—we wrapped-up our Texas weekend with a quick trip down to Waco Texas to learn more about the Silos and be up-close with the Fixer Upper phenomenon.

Dallas is about an hour and half South drive on 35W E to the city of Waco which is a town of about 130,000 people.

Trina and I went straight for the Silos where they opened at 9 AM. (Note CLOSED on Sundays)

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The Silos really are huge! Growing-up in Minnesota we see silos from the roadside a lot, and they are usually painted or a boring solid color. The Magnolia silos rusted texture and authentic elements make you feel at home and is even better in person (than the show).

So when do we go inside the silos? You actually don’t go inside the Silos folks. Just for show—at least for now. 

Travel Tip: Bring a small tripod to do your own photo-ops without asking others who can’t focus or don’t understand the rule of thirds. This place is full of places to grab interesting angles and take pictures of you and your crew. (Or bring your talented Sister to take a few pictures of you with her lens)

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Magnolia was buzzing by 10:30 AM with crowds appearing from everywhere. Mostly tourists but also saw locals heading towards the Silos Baking Company that was a newer addition the grounds to grab coffee and baked goods.

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Getting inside the Magnolia Market shop itself, we set aside a good 2 hours to allow for enough time to not feel rushed.

As you see the grounds is mapped in a beautiful way below:


A separate paint section in the lower level of the shop showed the details of the unique names of grays and a display that totally makes sense.

Can I bring a gallon of Sunday Stroll with me in my carry-on please?



Purchases included a few branded apparel items for ourselves and to gift, a bracelet and necklace and also a cute tin branded mug. #DemoDay shirt of course!

Travel Tip: Check prices online quick before arriving at the store.

The surprise? We were through the store in less than 35 minutes and that was even taking our time too!

The check-out lines weren’t super long, but can see that on its own on a busier time of day could be another 30 minutes easily. There was Christmas music playing and the start to the Holiday decor in early November when we were there.

We end our Magnolia tour with one more look throughout the gardens.

There are also a dozen or so food trucks that included pastries and sandwiches but we weren’t quite hungry yet, leaving the Silos at 11:30AM.

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Travel Tip: It seems really kid-friendly to be honest, space to run, things to eat. Bring them if you would like (or leave it adult-only) I didn’t see any wine bars or beer trucks.


img_0397And we were off with our smiles and goodies! Thanks Joanna for having us! 
A true success at the Silos! Definitely worth the trip and a great place to go back and see the changes and additions that Joanna Gaines does. Seriously—well done Jo Jo! 

I have seen every episode of the HGTV show Fixer Upper filmed in the Waco area and was confident with my Real Estate navigating skills that we would see a few Fixer Upper Homes…

Travel Tip: Finding the Fixer Upper houses themselves is way harder than imagined. There is a Waco Tour team now to find and point out the show homes and favorites. If you ask shop employees and random people on the streets about any “fixer upper homes” they won’t say a peep! Serious! So Waco Tours it is in 2017!

waco tour vanIn our case we had just 4 hours to see everything so the tour wasn’t quite the right fit. Fun branding though on the tour bus parked outside of the Silos.

While navigating through Waco in our Eco-friendly rental car, snapped a few pictures of a few homes that made sense to be close runner-ups on the show, or are part of Season 4 or 5? Chip what do you think?

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Many small businesses like this around Waco including Jail Bond places next to homes.


Cute porch and I can see the potential on that curb appeal.

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Below, remember that custom door? Look familiar anyone? This WAS on the HGTV show!

img_1814 img_3212It was our friend Clint from Harp Design’s house and shop! They are right next to each other.
We were impressed by the small unique items and approachable prices on his wooden items. Since we were traveling we didn’t leave with a chair or heavy cutting board, but loved the idea of the store open to the public. We highly recommend a drop by, make sure to check their hours first.
We didn’t see Clint working but for sure a handful of employees in the back.


We headed over to the Findery which has been featured on the show. It’s just a hop away from the Silos. No need to re-park on this one.

Trina and I could have spent another hour at the Findery, that store was a place that just kept on giving, we were also looking for Felix the November Elf on the shelf too for a $20 gift card towards our purchases.

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The second level of the Findery picture above.

Now we had an appetite folks! Where we going y’all? 

We did try to get to a few more local favorites but Mondays many restaurants were closed. So we walked across the alley to the Backyard from the Findery. It was fine for a cold brew and some fried food before heading back on the road. Nothing to tweet about but worked for us!



With only 30 minutes left in Waco (before we had to head back to catch out flights—seriously we had it timed out) we made it to the Magnolia Realty office South West of town. On the way there we found a few more higher-end neighborhoods but didn’t spot a Fixer Upper episode star.



My impression of the real estate office was under-whelming. I did notice the small design touches that made this very corporate office feel a bit more on-brand.

While visiting the restroom at the real estate office, spotted the Bed and Breakfast friend that was featured on the episode when Joanna and Chip created the Magnolia bed and breakfast. BTW fun fact as of December 2016—The Magnolia House itself has been booked through June 2017 at 1,295 per night with 2 night minimum. #GoodForThem


I also had the pleasure to chat with the Magnolia Realty brand manager and talk shop with a Minnesota img_5393connection, agent and my referral to Waco, Hesper Cordero. Overall the real estate in Waco is booming and the Magnolia Fixer Upper fans do stop-in for homes for sale (not often at the office itself) but there is a bit of science between vetting out real buyers from tourists. People are re-locating to Waco overall though (like Hesper did for her husband’s job) and there are a lot more suburbs that I forgot about, even more than from the show!

As the rain kept coming down, Trina texted we better head back to Dallas to catch our flights.


A SUCCESSFUL 5 hours in Waco!
#MilesToMagnolia 1,072 miles for me from Eden Prairie, Minnesota
and 1,474 miles for Trina from LA.


Thanks for stopping-by and taking in some Waco and the Silos with me,
Tricia Jo on the Go

Credits and links for additional information on travels and sights:

Magnolia Market
Harp Design Co
Magnolia Realty
The Findery Store in Waco
Bed and Breakfast by Joanna
Waco Texas Tourist Guide FAQ
Five O Seven Photo Studio by Trina


Travel with your partner

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Recently my husband and I went to Maui, and through all the hikes, drives, tee-times, beach-bumming-moments and amazing fish tacos I realized I wasn’t sure what our “couple travel brand” was.
Why do I even ask this question?
I’m a born-marketer and I keep seeing branded Twitter handles, websites and blogs with couples traveling and doing amazing things.

To be exact two stellar couples I can’t get enough of, are traveling and documenting their travels for us to enjoy:

CARL MARTIN and his wife ANNA OLSON are the founders of this incredibly smart way to spend a year-long, cross-country documentary project as newlyweds. They are taking the 52 weeks of this year and using them to make a short film about 50 states US Anywhere. Give them some travel tips when they visit your favorite city @usanywhere. It is only the beginning for this couple!

I also met last year onset MICAH KVIDT. He mentioned him and his wife’s branded travel project Wander The Map. It is where him and his incredible travel partner JENNA document their experiences. They take on world-wide adventures and even get paid for (some) of them! Digging’ their Instagram too, but seriously check them out and tweet them hello @WanderTheMap. Keep them book-marked folks.

There experiences inspired me to rethink how I brand going on travels with my partner in crime Tee Off With Steve. Since our travels will never match-up to the themes of these two talented couples, I had to think of our niche. I came up with a few options related to the golf course experiences around the U.S. we share. So tell me what one you think could stick as our branded travel theme:

  • This Gal and his Golfer (does it make you think of Tiger Woods too much?)
  • Tee off with Steve plus Tricia
  • The Greens of the USA (wait a minute, like those kind of greens…)
  • FORE! by the two of us 
  • Bye Bye Birdie—By the Leangers. 
  • Hole in one. (not sure if that will be the best SEO)

We may need to work on the brand vision a bit more but here are a few moments documented from our Maui Golf day at the Plantation Kapalua.


Brunch before hitting the course!


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Don’t be intimidated by documenting or branding your travels too much folks. Just snap pictures and video of your experiences and keep track of them the best way possible—so when you are 95 years old it’s an easy way to thumb-through those experiences, even if there is no such thing as Facebook or Twitter.

Couples who travel together stay together,
this MN Design Gal and Tee off with Steve


This Gal Said Yes to the Dress

say-yes-to-the-dressEveryone has heard the saying and the show is known for it, but it’s true, I said “Yes to the Dress”.

Having never tried on a dress other than my mother’s when I was about 15, I didn’t know where to start. I gravitated to some things due to pins on my pinterest board. But when I started my journey I didn’t know what to expect other than have that feeling I would be the “50+ dress bride”.

I tried on over 30 dresses before finding that dress I did say yes to. Before find it though I have to share a few places that I stopped along my finding my dress story…

Diamond Bridal was a rare find. Driving past it off of HWY 55 in Plymouth I would have never I mean NEVER would have stopped. It sits in a strip mall and the name really would make you think it could be a Diamond in the Rough.


Fit to Flare style shown here.

Joey who has been in the business for over 30+ years was at a wedding show and grabbed my attention with her genuine personality and passion for dresses. She is also a designer and reminded me of my hip grandma with a forward personality that was still warming. Starting there was a great fit because all her gowns are not in plastic body bags and you walk through a little path and see her designs while her one-on-one service was nice. I found my shape, fit to flare, at her store was lovely. It wasn’t glamorous, and the fitting rooms reminded you of a Herberger’s changing room but that didn’t matter because you always remember your first time.

Next on the list was a total different experience off of Grand Avenue in St Paul, Che Bella. Knowing this place had been nominated for multiple awards, and that this boutique was owned by gals were young and friendly. The styles of dresses were slightly more vintage with a total runway feel. The ladies that own it are around my age and the gal that helped me barely could lift the dresses up she was about 18 years old. This tiny place only lets you bring 2 people because of the 1 mirror area. Even though my sister and mom loved two very classy numbers on me, the 4,000 price tag left me feeling a bit numb. Go there after a few drinks off of Grand with a best friend and be one of their last appointments in the day. I spotted a bottle of champagne but ti was empty and I was offered any, bummer! 

Downtown Minneapolis, just a few blocks from sex world is a fabulous large warehouse and the for l’atelier couture bridal. Valet park at Monte Carlo and tell them your headed to l’atelier and it will be complementary. I had booked this one about a month ahead and took a best friend that is also a bride-to-be! This experience was like the movies. Champagne in glass flutes and fancy paper straws we walked and picked Vera Wang and felt at home with Christina Herrmann, to later find out who is the Store Manager.

At L'atelier Bridal trying on dresses.

At L’atelier Bridal trying on dresses.

l'atelier racks

I had asked before coming in if could bring wine or champagne and the lady had encouraged it! Needless to say the experience will be one both Kate and I won’t forget. Christina followed with personal emails to us and I continue to follow her and encourage other brides to try their store. Even though you must be in that price bracket of $2,000+ to think about buying, it’s a great spot to find something you love and take out a loan. l'atelier instagram

After coming back down to reality and going to a few other shops, my mom and sister ended up stopping at a small place downtown Wayzata Posh. It was a Saturday and we didn’t have an appointment (RED FLAG Brides! Always have Saturday appointments). In this case we had the time so it was a walk-thru. We met the owner Marie and instantly we all loved her stylish vibe, sister-like influence and appreciated her candid-ness. She put me in fitting room for a rare 30 minute opening where I quickly fell in love with two dresses. Total opposites but both something I wasn’t expecting to gravitate to… strapless. The last-minute try-on was the off the rack by a Spanish designer. Marie told me she has had to discontinue that line because of the unique style it had for the local midwest traditional market.

Well – I ain’t your Mid-west typical gal am I?

I did end up leaving Posh with no dress and moved on to a few other appointments that we had scheduled for that day. A week later, I still had the Spanish designer dress on my mind. Timing is everything and Marie direct messaged me over Twitter to tell me about her once a year Valentine’s Day private sample sale. Needless to say, I knew I would regret if didn’t make my way back to the store to see both dresses there.

I asked my sister Trina to be my maid-of-honor on the way to our mystery Valentine’s Day stop and we made our way back to Posh.

I couldn’t leave the original sample Spanish design behind this time. The price got closer to my budget, and to seal the deal I had my alterations part of the ticket price of the dress. (Alterations can be up to $300 dollars extra!)

Yes to the dress

I did say “Yes to the Dress” on Valentine’s Day, Thursday February 14, 2013. The dress before the date is the way this bride-to-be rolls…

your future bride gal

Quick 10 on our Door County Road Trip

1 car
2 people
3 bags on board
4 minutes to see that sunset
5 hours to Green Bay
6 dollars for hash brown sandwich breakfast
7 percent alcohol in local porter brew
8 dollar beers at Lambeau Field
9 miles of walking in door county
10 stops along the coast



20121001-122034.jpgStop in Brussels for the original Hasbrown Sandwich.









Packer Game on. My hand bag turned into my green and gold pride!





Night 1 Stayed at Aloft Green Bay
– Highly Recommend! Modern, easy access to Green Bay game spots and close to downtown.

Night 2 Stayed at Bailey’s Harbor Waterfront Resort – Great place to stay for more than 1 night. Get the waterfront view and the sunset picture will be yours too. Indoor and Outdoor pool is nice but never used.

Happy Fall traveling!


1 word: mono

Many of us have been in Uptown and walk by a really cool looking blue door and wonder what is inside. Some may try to open it thinking it’s a new trendy little shop, other may look inside the window to find nothing but a large black staircase and a really cool tall-person made motorcycle.

Mono_doorLast night, Ad 2 members and friends got to experience mono and what happens behind the blue door.

With over 100 attendees and several walk-ins, this unique agency let us rowdy ad folk come and learn a bit about their work, space and who they really are. The keg was tapped and included Blue Solo cups (duh) and red and white wine along with a variety of after work appetizers, that of course I didn’t get to try. Why is when hosting events you never get to go pee or eat anything? 

mono’s co-founder and owner Michael Hart got everyone’s attention by banging on a beer glass and lead the night away with being genuine, funny and quite charming without trying. Of course I had to bring to their attention after his announcement the very large “Best in Show” award that they won on November 11, 2011 from the Ad Fed advertising awards aka the Addy’s.

There were 5 rooms with different speakers on case studies from Blue Dot to Virgin and the crowds made their way in to listen, question and enjoy.

Anne Mahoney (now Deanovic) and I had been planning this little get together since this summer actually. She wasn’t familiar with how the events went, but she surely nailed it with the casual atmosphere and the challenge of space that could have arrived. The fire alarm was only going off just for a few minutes before the crowd came and luckily no police or escorts needed to arrive.

blue solo cup

Instagram @mndesigngal

The kegs were gone at 7:30; which meant that it surely was a good time had by all.
Being able to come into an agency, approach then with an idea and get them excited about hosting people they don’t know and have it all be taken place in their house, can be a challenge, but once again a thrill and enjoyment. Shout-out help: also from Zach Zutler our Ad 2 membership chair (and a friend of mine who used to tend bar together back in the day) who interned at mono and then was hired!

Another successful event. [Check]

Thanks to Jay Larson and Sunny Chang for having their lens with them. Along with my random twitter friends and members with their #ad2mono tweets and mentions. Ad 2 volunteers Anita, Matt and Tim for ID’ing and being yourselves.

See you at Olson April 5th, this event has been in the making since my first year as Programs Director for Ad 2 back in 2008. (For reals)

Keep networking your little hearts out,

Job leads from last night? Yes. One really good one. Are you reading this? I can start April 9, better yet I can start April 2 and be trained in that first week in April.
Also another surprise visit by a social media manager who I have been talking with and admire, I hear he likes cats though.

Take the Stairs

What may be someone’s worst nightmare happened to me Saturday night. Not only did the evening start off lovely meeting friends who were celebrating their 6 year anniversary downtown and going to the 27th Floor fancy bar The Prohibition in the W Hotel downtown Minneapolis. But after spending over $100 on drinks only and enjoying the “bed” where we watched the crowd growing we decided to head back down the 27 floors. Entering into the elevator I positioned myself where I always seem to go near the buttons of the floor numbers and press 1. Within seconds the elevator was full of about 20 people and what seemed to be a crowded experience for usually 5-10 seconds slowly changed—the door closed quickly while Steve and another man gasped because the door had closed while someone had to jump out of it almost loosing their legs!

Within seconds I press the button to 1 again it did not light up. The elevator was stuck on the 26th floor. Very quickly people begin to laugh and cheers each other while others around me press the buttons about 50 times. I call the red emergency button while a guy who felt really cool was on his cell phone with a friend that worked at the W or something. The noise level began to change while trying to figure out what was going on.

Real Life from the Elevator, Steve on the left.

A lady announced over the elevator intercom that this has “never happened before“, which gave us even more of a sicker feeling. Meanwhile after 20 minutes people around us began to feel sick. One girl moved to the front where there was a small “breeze”, which not sure if that made my stomach feel better knowing we could at any minute plummet 26 floors!

The firefighter light began blinking in the elevator just guessing that it was to tell us people were working on it and we heard a lot of banging coming from above us.

Mandy and I in Real-Time in the Stuck-Elevator

Back and forth talking between the intercom lady and us all trying to be calm while others a little intoxicated because it was now 1:00 AM.

40 minutes go by and all of sudden a strong smell of vomit moves throughout the elevator. Steve standing right by me, quietly asks if I have my purse on my shoulder for his shoes are full of puke.

Still in the elevator, we had all told each other not to stampede out of it thinking that would be the next thing a injury of some-sort. What seemed like hours later, trying to not get sick from the smell and thoughts of falling the doors all of sudden open!  I was one of the last ones off even though being one of the first ones inside…

Proceeding to take the 25 flights of stairs down make my legs shake even more. There was broken glass in the halls ways while a few girls not wearing shoes ran down the stairs. It not only was dangerous but scary because the concrete was very slippery!

When arriving at the bottom we were not greeted by anyone or any staff of the W or the even the bars or restaurants. Meanwhile the guys got in line where it seems they were writing down names and email addresses. Mandy and I went to the restroom where finding a man along the way that did say “can I get you anything” and Mandy replied “a drink!” I told him that was an experience that was not only fun but disturbing. He quickly said he worked the bar at Manny’s and didn’t have any affiliation with the W Hotel but could get a drink because of our bad experience. I frankly didn’t care who this guy was nor did I want a drink but quickly drank the vodka cranberry out of just being thirsty.

Just about 5 minutes later going back to the main hotel lobby where JT and Steve were waiting with not happy faces, a bouncer glared at me and quickly pulled the sheet of names that had been put down from the elevator incident.

In any case maybe he thought I was trying to get something for free or was Channel 5 news reporter to interview what happened? But that did not sit well with the guys and we did not feel very helped.

What ended up being a random thing, the W and Prohibition bar handled it extremely poorly. Not only were we looking for an apology but simply some kindness and sympathy from the staff and management. Giving us some reassurance or possible time to get to know more about how or why this could happen at such a high-end establishment.

Online, through instagram, foursquare and twitter my pictures and tweets got the attention of @StarwoodBuzz the official voice of Starwood Hotels that is The W’s management team. But still today nothing back.

Not only did Steve’s new shoes get ruined by the puke, it was the fact that they neither cared or took responsibility.

This is a lesson learned by hotels in environments that things happen that having customer service follow-up right away because even a small gesture of a gift-card or free night stay would have been reasonable because their reputation in our eyes not only have failed and been ruined but will be to our network and local friends.

While writing this blog post, I received a call and message from the Operations Manager at the W Hotel more to come. Was his ears ringing? Later today, a follow-up email from Dan after talking with him today who said sorry and that they didn’t know where the 15 out of 20 people went after the elevator stalled and firemen had came and left. He offered to fix Steve’s shoes. Also an upgrade upon arrival on a future stay based on availability.

Take the Stairs my Friends,
your mn design gal

Photoshop Handy-work

The Adobe Creative Suite. Awwww who loves it?

I always have the three (with Bridge sometimes four) and before I know it, I’m touching up pictures of a random night out, or throwing a logo together for an event, or making a TO-DO list in Indesign.

Last night loaded my 4th of July sunset pictures. I put together this Before and After to show what I did in Photoshop to enhance the pic.

As you can see, the sign was faded, so popped that out with some effects while not taking away from the background or making it look flake or placed in the image.

Notice the After is Before the Before.