May Flowers…

Moving through the Spring cleaning motions: weed-picking, branch-busting, deck-staining, closet organizing—thoughts of selling your home come right before Summer. This being my second Spring and soon to be Summer in my home, I can tell why people may get the itch when the buds start to grow to sell!

spring flowers on hawthorne spring flowers on hawthorne 2









People’s reasons for selling and then buying again are numerous, but they mostly relate to life transitions and changing needs.

Top 5 reasons for selling right now:

1. Want to be in a different neighborhood (40%)
2. Need a home with different features (28%)
3. Need a bigger home (22%)
4. Want location with better weather, views, and/or lifestyle (19%)
5. Need to lower cost of living (17%)

blooms blooms2








Enjoying our Spring Snow Crab Apple Blooming Tree early May!

I don’t think I will be able to throw the sign in the front yard quite yet—I just got my kitchen the way I have wanted… (also stay tuned for that photo-filled blog post)

Remember to stop and smell the tulips, buds (or roses), 
Tricia jo 






 reports. Original source.


Travel with your partner

FullSizeRender 13

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!


IMG_9047 IMG_9044 IMG_9038 IMG_9006

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


Tailored Tweets

Did you know that Twitter crafts sponsored content based on your browser history? They say it so casual Tailor Twitter to your interests.

I stumbled upon this while weeding through some of the new Twitter releases last week.

There is an option to turn this off, and I was quick to want to uncheck-mark the personalization—then realized I actually enjoy that my content is relevant to my recent website searches.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 10.35.47 AM


Depending on what I am browsing in, I am searching items for clients and that keeps my content relevant to me.

I wonder how much data they have on me?

Twitter honors Do Not Track (DNT), which is a privacy preference that you can set in most web browsers.

Many browsers do not educate their users on this issue, here is CHROME’s take on it.

Screen Shot 2016-02-10 at 10.39.16 AM










Do Not Track:
For Windows: In the App list, tap Settings, flick left to Applications, tap Internet Explorer, and then tap Advanced Settings.

​Chrome. To turn on or off DNT in Chrome, go to Chrome menu > Settings > (Advanced) Privacy, then select your preferred option for “Do Not Track.” …

On the flip side, if you are looking for relevant content within your Twitter HOME FEED please enable it or leave it as is.


Always thinking, here is my home office desk

Stay focused and in the loop on your personal data,
MN Design Gal



Stay connected

I still write handwritten notes, cards and thank yous—I don’t see this ageless tradition going away. But Instagram, Snapchat, Facebook, Facebook IM, Twitter… these are my main social apps at this moment and it becomes harder write a letter when these apps are so handy. I use each app in very different ways to target the audience that makes most sense depending on the content I want to share.


photo from internet—unknown site

Think about this—we are all content managers every day of our lives. That cute random photo moment of the cuddly baby, the cute heels you decided to sport in the middle of the winter, Justin Timberlake’s newest music video via YouTube, a new job—that you can finally tell your closest friends about. This is all content.

Who should see this? Who needs to know first? Who do you NOT want to see it?
Who can see this and make you famous? (Ok that one may be just me)

My sister is in Manhattan Beach, California and my brother is in Charleston, North Carolina. Both my parents were not on Facebook 4 years ago until my brother was set off to the Air Force… Now both my parents are active on Snapchat and I get messages from them more than I do my 13-year old cousin.

The reason for this, is simply being able to stay connected. It doesn’t matter if it’s a postcard in the mail, a emoticon over text message, a random moment during the day through a Snapchat or a sunset picture posted on Instagram.

Instagram_sunset_andmoreMy Dad just asked me again this weekend if SnapChat was on the iPad—my 75-year old Grandma would love this app to be kept in the loop.

I try to keep up with the updates and share with followers, friends and yes even my parents and grandparents, because technology is ever-changing. Snapchat’s latest update is adding Emoji’s to their address book / friend list. Learn more via Mashable.

Also last week, emoji keyboard was changed with iOS 8.3 update that includes skin tones of some faces. Learn more via Apple themselves.


Pick the right channels to spread your content—remember a good handwritten letter or note is still the best to share that update too.

Always thinking with her iPhone 6 Plus in hand,

MN Design Gal

My cousins who are SnapChat and more social savvy then ever before.


The Rise of the Ugly Sweater

How many Ugly Sweater Parties have you been to over the last few years?

It occurred to me while attending my third Ugly Sweater sweater themed party this season, I needed to do a little research about this tradition.

Who really started this trend?
In the 80’s, according to an Urban Dictionary, a “Cosby sweater” is an oversized, hideous looking sweater with ugly patterns and colors, often worn by old men or hipsters with no taste, and named after the actor/comedian Bill Cosby. He wore a lot of ugly sweater while acting on ” The Cosby Show “.


Now, I don’t think we all gathered around the TV in our big 80’s sweaters and idolized Bill Cosby—and his iconic sweaters…but I can see the connection.

Koos Van Den Akker was the designer behind the wild collaged sweaters worn on TV that established Koos’ reputation with the rich and famous. Soon after Bill Cosby was seen sporting Koos’ vibrant and inspiring sweaters, famed notables such as Chuck Norris and Richard Simmons.

ustv-the-big-bang-theory-itchy-brain-simluation-2For years, I have thought this tradition was started with the age-old tradition of Grandmas and Mother-in-laws gifting itchy wool sweaters. Finally one day someone decided to throw a party to show off their ugly sweaters!


Remember Ugly Betty?

When did the parties start?

158271aVancouver, Canada claims to be the home of the first ugly Christmas sweater party in 2002. The Commodore Ballroom in Vancouver holds a ball each year where ugly Christmas sweaters are the mandatory dress code. This year marks their 13th annual party… who’s going this weekend?


The best ugly sweater’s have a story behind them. I seriously have a few including a turtle neck that has belonged to my hip 80-year-old Grandmother.

Most friends will buy from a Goodwill or gently used store that stocks them on purpose and marks them up for the season. The newest trend this year is making your own or buying sweaters and vests 3 times too small and adding accessories such as fun glasses or ties and hats to the look.


My handsome husband and his two buddies.

Whatever the reason, Tis the Season to be silly with friends, slightly awkward with the buddies, laugh with strangers on the bus and most of all, celebrate gathering as friends to celebrate the love the Holidays.

Jimmy Fallon is even throwing an Ugly Sweater give-a-way to his fans. Tweet a photo of yourself in your best (worst) holiday sweater with the hashtag #12DaysOfChristmasSweatersContest and mention @FallonTonight in the tweet, between now and December 19th. Here is his “fine print” …The failure of Sponsors to comply with any provision of these Official Rules due to an act of God, hurricane, war, fire, riot, earthquake, terrorism, act of public enemies, actions of governmental authorities outside of the control of Sponsors (excepting compliance with applicable codes and regulations), or other “force majeure” event will not be considered a breach of these Official Rules… Will you win?


My prediction is this trend will go away some day. But for now—keep an over the top Holiday sweater, a snowman sweatshirt and that jingle bell vest hanging in your closet to dust off for those December parties. Now when someone asks at the party “when did this Ugly Sweater thing start?” You will have a few random facts to announce to the slightly intoxicated group.

Stay stylish and be kind this Holiday Season,
Your Holiday-Spirit-Gal



Millennial Homeowner

Homeownership for Americans 35 and under declined to 36.2 percent, down from 36.8 percent in 2013 and the lowest on record since the census’s Housing Vacancy Survey began tabulating homeownership by age in 1982. (source USA News)

When I came across this stat after I had my closing date set, I actually studied the facts further and even started to doubt my decision to buy a home with my husband.

I have had three close friends go through foreclosures and now are renting. I have no single friends that own homes right now that I can think of.  A few that are newly married that have chosen to wait to buy a house “until it’s the best time in the market”. Then finally the friends that do own homes all have children and are in the construction industry “when it just makes sense”.

Really, the facts have always been clear that the millennial lifestyle is just not like our parents.

card from lindsey

New homeowner cards filled the mailbox the first week. My favorite card from a college friend and fellow millennial.



It wasn’t taken on the day of our closing…but the photo holds the memory and the key that doesn’t work anymore (we changed the locks of course) to our home.


I think of one of the earliest research stats I can remember, the average number of children per couple. Gallup has been asking Americans “What do you think is the ideal number of children for a family to have?” since 1936, when the ideal number per family was 3.6. This number declined between 1957 and 1978 to an average of about 2.5 children, where it remains today—OK enough on that stat that’s another blog post, and no I’m not pregnant.

Steve and I celebrated our 1 year wedding anniversary in our home this weekend. Just for the record, we have also already done 91 Home Depot, Menards and Lowes visits in just three weeks (glad the 11% Menards rebate was going on too). Don’t worry friends this blog won’t turn into a BEFORE and AFTER or DIY picture over-share… we will save that for Pinterest.

Thanks for stopping by. Three advertising and marketing events this week, so stay tuned for strategic updates and thought-starters (now I really have to write about at least one).

Your newest millennial homeowner,
MN Design Gal plus Steve 

fun in front of the home

Drive Your Business Forward

Fast Company is a news source with the following of innovative and creative thought leaders who are actively inventing the future of business. What is happening this month is the judging of their Drive Your Business Forward contest.


The submission process started with seeing the ad for small businesses on a promoted post on Facebook and then taking a look at the past winners on YouTube. My Dad is the sole owner and operator of his vending machine company who works 14+ hour days with a Sprinter van with over 340,000 miles on it. He has never owned a new work van or truck ever.

A Plus Vending

favorite smile

We met Dad at one of his Minneapolis vending stops on a late Thursday night in May and filmed him in action.

After explaining more to him about this mystery contest, he insistented in a follow-up shoot where he would be more prepared with commentary on why he deserves a new Sprinter van. A new Sprinter van or even the $10K would be an unforgettable experience and dream for him and the really-the entire family.

What is the GRAND PRIZE you ask?

The Grand Prize consists of a 2014 (or 2015, if available) Mercedes-Benz Sprinter Van together with $10,000 worth of customizations. 
Additional second place is BEST VIDEO: The Readers’ Choice Prize is $10,000 in cash.
The eligible entries will be judged on the following criteria: 
1) how the proposed use of Sprinter van will help Entrant’s business grow (50%)
Keith is all about efficiency on his route being the sole owner and operator, the more variety of snacks in his machines and the more stops on his route the more sales will be made. So with the help of Fast Company if he could customize and create the best layout in the Sprinter van, meanwhile drive a new safe and quality vehicle, this would grow his business. 
2) overall business strategy (25%)
– Keith needs to transfer all of his machines to credit card acceptance and that is a huge investment; so his route and sales need to increase by 30% to be able to do this by 2015. With the business strategy to keep his route efficient with the best possible transportation as possible, it will help this sole business owner. 
3) quality of performance on submitted video (25%)
Trina (my younger talented sister) used Final Cut Pro to develop this entertaining and customized video, so the quality is super- just see for yourself!
Taking all this into consideration we went drafted a quick outline for the 60-90 second video submission and used iCloud to quickly upload video clips from iPhones and labeled them in sequential order for efficient editing.
With the deadline being May 30th we had no time for multiple revisions. While Trina found music that wasn’t copyrighted, I created Dad a Google+ Account, YouTube Channel and added photos captioned from the submission video shoot.
Without any further details, please comment, encourage and LIKE our 90-second video submission for the Fast Company’s Drive Your Business to Success starring Keith Severson:


Ready for more? Trina made an extended version with an overview of a day in the life of attending to vending with Keith:

Lastly, for Father’s Day we had to make sure to release the uncut version. At the end there is a shout-out to Fast Company and how brilliant of an idea this contest is because not only did we spend time filming our hard-working Dad, but he may the underdog but he’s still the Winner to us!

Cheers to hard-work and stop by after July 7th for the update to the Fast Company contest. We hope our Dad wins because he needs a new Sprinter soon!

Staying creative as the Vending Man’s Daughter,
Tricia jo

pic of this mndesigngal

GoPros Aren’t Just for Pros

GoPros have been around since 2005 and really has become a household name over the last few years.

The company was formed by Nick Woodman. Woodman said he was inspired to start the company following a 2002 Australia surfing trip in which he was hoping to capture quality action photos of his surfing, but could not because amateur photographers could not get close enough, or obtain quality equipment at accessible prices. His desire for a camera system that could capture the professional angles inspired the ‘GoPro‘ name. Learn more from Wiki.

My personal love for the GoPro came when my little brother Troy started in the Air Force as a loadmaster. He filmed his first video and uploaded it to Vimeo to show the family what he on the job. It truly feels like we are on flight with him as he mounted the camera in multiple places to experience the journey.

troy air drop 2Troy air drop

Family and close friends met in Cabo for my wedding and Troy brought 2 GoPros with all the accessories to document the wedding week.


The slightly awkward part about a GoPro is the fact you actually can’t look through the lens to see what your recording. Farmers place it on their tractors, hunters mount them in their hunting shakes, surfers on their boards and they need to use their smartphones to trigger a feed to see what they are recording or just hope it’s capturing what they need.

On the wedding day, Troy mounted both GoPro’s in the palm trees to film the views birds in the trees and a unique perspective to the day.

wedding go pro set up Capture_setup2 gopro

The best part about GoPro’s is the accessories that can go under the water and also be mounted on someone’s head to give a feel of experience. Many videos for brands are being user-generated content and this is an original and real way to connect with the brand advocates.

prices for gopros

Now I’m not getting any product placement from GoPro’s or even Best Buy to write this post- but I wanted to let people know where to buy them and that they aren’t a cheap fun camera. They start at $199.99 with no accessories, but who wants to not have the waterproof case for vacation?

GoPro shows us how you can throw a waterproof GoPro on your head and swim with dolphins.

Let’s dive a bit deeper and see how it works with a shark snack also provided by GoPro’s YouTube Channel.

I recommend the cameras for trips, weddings, family fun and random Saturday days at the park with the kids. Learn more about my lifestyle brand by visiting video playlists on Remember you can also make your own memories with video. I edited my footage in iMovie, which is now free with the latest Mac purchases.

“GoPro” for capturing those memories in the near future – you won’t be disappointed.

your MN Design Gal




Linkedin – My Long Lost 326

“It was nice to meet you. Are we connected on Linkedin?” I bet you have said or heard that line before.

LinkedIn is a business-oriented Social networking service. Founded in December 2002 and launched on May 5, 2003, it is mainly used for professional networking. As of June 2013, LinkedIn reports more than 259 million acquired users in more than 200 countries and territories.

I find myself checking this social network on the mobile platform while riding the bus rather than logging-in on the desktop website. This week commuting to work, I went through my Twitter, Business Insider, Vine and Linkedin routine when I stopped in my tracks.

Checking the home feed, new messages and request, I noticed the +326>


I scanned the invitations to see friends, current co-workers, past co-workers, 1-time meeters, a few never-met-head-hunters and people that I respect in the industry sitting in this pool of 326. Did I miss something? Was I really ignoring their invitations?

I opened a current co-worker to find the invitation date of Fri, February 14, 2014. (By the way thanks for thinking of me Rachel on Valentine’s Day).


I quickly texted Rachel to ask if she had really requested my connections on Linkedin, and she didn’t remember but was pretty sure she did some time.

What did these people think when I didn’t accept their invite within a few days? Was it something that they could have taken personal? Are they still waiting to this day for my acceptance?

Thinking through all the possibilities of why this would happen, I waited until I arrived to my MacBook Air at home to see if the desktop version was truly showing the same thing or if it was a mobile app mishap.

Linkedindesktop2 LinkedinDesktop3

It was true! My desktop version had 326 messages waiting for me to check-mark and accept.

I sent a Tweet to @Linkedin and see if they just did an update. Why would this just show up now? My mailbox would have surely alerted me if I was missing messages.

Tweet to @linkedin

No feedback from @Linkedin.

I decided to look a bit closer at the UX and invitation structure of Linkedin. If you’re a mobile user, when a new connection request comes in to your mailbox it will not appear new again in the desktop version.  If the user clicks to review them quickly on the mobile version but doesn’t take the time to accept they will NOT appear on your desktop version later when return to the home screen. This leaves it up to the busy user to remember to go back into the invitations within messages and see them. In the past there never was any inbox alert unless it was active or a direct message that wasn’t clicked and viewed on.

If there is no action done to the invitation they’re put in a blocked category by default.

Clicking into the mailbox then invitations tab, it shows 326 blocked invites. Wait a minute– when did I ever “block” these people?


When I think of blocking, I think of Facebook. When a person usually blocks an ex, an ex’s ex, a random creeper, a current boss or future boss, possibly a mother-in-law…

I’m surprised that Linkedin mark the unattended invites as blocked as default, maybe this will be changed in the near future. Let’s just hope my 326 don’t think that I truly blocked them.



My Public Viewing Linkedin Profile

I decided to take the night off and not think too much more about my neglected 326 invites. How did this affect my career?

The next day I launched my Linkedin App on my bus and noticed the Linkedin intro screen with the random lady walking the pavement on a busy undefinable street.

whosthislady on Linked

Who is the Linkedin splash screen gal?

Is that a blurred Coach purse she is wearing?

I’m liking the demin jacket with the black pants. Wonder where I can buy that jacket?

Is the ponytail too casual for Linkedin?

Isn’t this suppose to be the professional network featuring people like this?

businesspeople businesspeoplerandomsearch

I decided to  take a look at a few alternative shots that Linkedin could update their app splash screen with.

walking gal with bag, coffee and late

The attractive fashionable woman walking the suburbs streets with a briefcase, coffee, painted red fingernails (I have never ever worn red nail polish like that to work) while making sure she is right on time for that important meeting.


The streets are always crowded and you have to watch your back in business. He is your boy next door, always late but has the best ideas co-worker wearing purple and a skinny tie. She is known as the multitasker and problem-solver, while she used to model and someday hopes to be the first advertising executive on the cover of PlayBoy.

live is hard from shutter stock

Life’s city streets are just too busy for the special Linkedin user, you are above the rest. Wearing 3-inch heels and holding a true leather portfolio you can balance it all and be above all the rest with your success.


on the phone always connecting shutter stock

She is focused always connected even after leaving the office. How does she do it all?


Did Linkedin make the right choice with their current image? Did she get any paid for modeling or was this just a random New York City day and she clearly isn’t identifiable.

All silly-ness aside, Linkedin is always updating and I’m glad that they have stuck around and are always improving their UX, integration with other products and are one of the leading social networks.

Now, I will work the rest of weekend weeding through my 326.

Always thinking for the better of your brand,
MN Design Gal 

Photo by 507 Studio and Trina Severson

Photo by Trina with 507 Studio


Minnesota Made

Recently I was asked to write down two things that people may not know about myself.

My response was “A Packer Fan” and “Lived in 20+ homes over the last few decades”.

I am a Minnesota born gal. My dad was in marketing and sales for almost 20 years so the family moved around quite a bit growing-up. We moved over the border to Wisconsin and a few cities between Green Bay just in time for the Packers to be at the Superbowl 2 years in a row. The family then came back to Minnesota just in time for me to start 7th grade and I ended-up graduating High School successfully from the same town and with no awkward teenager moves to ruin those valuable years.


[Info according to 2008 Pew Research Social and Demographic Trends]

37percent_infographicMost stayers say at least half a dozen members of their extended families live within a hour’s drive.

40% said that more than 10 relatives live nearby. A majority of the stayers also cite a feeling of belonging as a major reason for staying put.

I had to sit back and think of those friends and advertising socialites that packed-up and moved away from the Minnesota winters over the past year or two.



Another long-time advertising friend and fellow Advertising Federation board member Forest aka @ColossalRaptor makes the list of digital guys that headed out West. Can you find him above? (hint: he’s not smiling to the top right). Forest moved from the Midwest to sunny San Diego. He requested a transfer from the Minneapolis location of Digitaria last year to help grow and collaborate with their Cali digital strategy team. He hasn’t been out there too long to shake the town up too much but I wouldn’t put it past him to do some amazing digital things out there. Smart move Forest- it’s been one of the longest and coldest Winter ever in Minnesota.



Photo taken by Jamie – Steve and I at the garden wedding

I met Jamie aka @jutzinger years ago through the Student Advertising Summit and later found out I was going to a wedding in her family’s backyard (pictured above a photo she took at the wedding in her parent’s beautiful backyard). Jamie is #MNmade and after being at a top local agency she felt herself ready for a new city and a new challenge. She took it upon herself to reach out to a past supervisor who completely supported her idea on getting to San Fran and she immediately landed a planner job (and promotion) at Butler, Shine, Stern & Partners. Nicely done. See you soon Jamie!




If you have ever met Phong aka @phonghtran, you will never ever forget Phong. We met at an AIGA event back in 2008ish, then we kept crossing paths through other organizations and agency events. Phong is super-bad-ass talented in design, development and even photography and he pushed himself out of Minneapolis because he knew there was more out there for him (plus he was really freaking cold). He went out to California then down to Texas where he works now at IBM. Now that is smart thinking.

Do you know more #MNmade advertising and marketers that have broke the mold of being born and raised Minnesotans that have inspired you? Send them my way and I’ll do a follow-up post with additional friends that are doing cool things in different cities.

Stay inspired.
Take chances and remember… you can ALWAYS move back.

your MN Design Gal