Buy your stamps and get ready, it is almost time to mail Grandma Cathy’s card!

I’ve gotten quite the positive feedback regarding my social experiment to send 70 birthday cards to my Grandma Cathy for her upcoming milestone birthday. I’m antsy and anxious to start getting the cards in the mail, and trying to figure out the perfect way to tell Grandma that I gave out her address on the internet… Hopefully she will forget all about that when she receives a shower of lovely birthday cards.

Wondering what to write? I have some ideas for you. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments. You can write about:

*Your favorite birthday memory

*Your holiday plans

*The best thing you ever did for a loved ones birthday

*The weather/your pets/your family

*Your favorite memory of a grandparent

If we reach the goal of 70 birthday cards for Grandma’s 70th birthday, I’ll post a video blog of Grandma’s reaction to your cards (this, of course, is pending Grandma’s involvement but I am sure with a little convincing she’ll help her lovely granddaughter out).



Help me out for Grandma’s birthday

We all have that special lady in our lives. The one that spoiled you a litte more than your mom did, that slipped you an extra $20 when you went back to your college dorm after a weekend with her and just made you feel like the most special girl in the whole world. My special lady loves shoes, dancing, going to church, praying, cats, the City of Saint Paul, Judy Garland records, cleaning, cleaning up after her eldest granddaughter, singing, sewing and so much more.  Grandma Cathy is having a milestone birthday on Sunday, November 25th. She is turning 70.

Grandma Cathy is very dear to my heart. She worked her tail off for her entire life to get to where she is today. I moved in with her when I was 15 and she raised me. I believe she is responsible for turning me in to the bright young woman I am today.

Leah & Grandma // 2008

She is retired, but not bored. Between volunteering, rollerskating, dancing, karaoke, taking art classes, taking kickboxing classes, traveling and adopting a (hyper) dog… she leads an exciting and active life. She is not an ordinary woman, which is why she deserves an extraordinary surprise for her 70th birthday.

Catherine // December 1961

Can I use my network of friends/colleagues/strangers to have Grandma receive 70 birthday cards in the mail? 

Here is how you can help me.

  • Get a postcard, card or USPS-approved mailing document.
  • Write a little note on whatever you find. Wish Grandma Cathy a very happy birthday and don’t forget a stamp. 
  • Mail it on Wednesday November 21st to:

Grandma Cathy

1304 DeSoto Street

Saint Paul, MN 55130

  • Watch my Twitter feed for updates on Grandma’s social birthday experiment. I’ll also post a re-cap blog to share how it worked and some photos.

THANK YOU for helping me make Grandma Cathy’s milestone birthday a fun memory.

Also, don’t tell her I told you she’s 70, she doesn’t like being reminded that she is “old”.

If you have any questions, please email me at leahzins (at) or tweet me at @LeahSTP.

Question & Answer with MN Blogger Conference past attendees

The 2012 MN Blogger Conference is just around the corner. The event is officially sold out, so be sure to get added to the wait list for your ticket! 

I attended my first MN Blogger Conference in 2011, and was inspired by all of the amazing people in attendance. I met the following bloggers last year and wanted to share their stories with you. Enjoy this question and answer with three great bloggers, and be sure to add their blogs to your blog reader.


Tell me about your blog – when did it start, what is the intention/purpose, etc?

I started my blog last year after the Minnesota Blogger Conference. When I started I was full of motivation and excitement from all the wonderful bloggers I had met, plus I had prior blogging experience being the blog manager for Anytime Health (a health and wellness blog).

I knew I wanted to start my own blog because I have so much to say. Plus, this blog would be mine. Ms. Giggles is all about inspiration and education with a little random mixed in. I talk about life, design, travel, fashion, and more. It’s a true lifestyle blog covering anything that inspires me.

I love being able to share my experiences with my readers, especially my Grandma who is an email subscriber. She loves reading them and I know that I will continue writing, if just for her!

Where do you see your blog in five years?

I see it growing with the next generation of the web. In regards to blogs, we don’t know exactly where content will lie in 2016. It might still be with blogs, or it might be something really cool that we don’t know about yet. All I know is that I intend on making my content stand out on whatever platform it is best suited for.

Why did you decide to attend the MN Blogger Conference? Had your blog really started then, or did you find inspiration to really get it going?

I attended the bloggers conference to grow the multi-blogger platform I manage, Anytime Health. I always am looking to further my education and knowledge especially when it’s something I deal with every day! I love all of my bloggers on Anytime Health because they inspire people to change their lives…which is hard enough! The MN Blogger Conference really opened my eyes to creating a sense of community with the readers on AH!

What inspires you in relation to your blog?

The better question is probably what doesn’t inspire me…I love so many different things and that makes it easier to write. Whatever you’re passionate about is what you should be writing…it makes it ten times easier. I get inspired by other bloggers. I love to see what they are doing in their lives and that inspires me!

Did you catch any inspiration at last year’s event?

I will bet that I was the MOST inspired person there! What an amazing group of bloggers we have in this state. Everyone is always willing to help out with advice, guest blogging, and more! I love that the “Minnesota Nice” translates to bloggers.

Are you hoping to attend this year? Anything in particular you’re looking forward to/would like to learn about?

I will be attending this year, if I can get a ticket. I am always looking for how people cultivate their communities and how they keep them in their circle.


Tell me about your blog – when did it start, what is the intention/purpose, etc?

My blog is It started about three years ago with a pretty loose goal of learning and talking about online marketing, but I’ve narrowed the scope considerably since and now provide tips for folks using the Squarespace content management system. I’ve also recently started to blog about inbound marketing.

Where do you see your blog in five years?

It would be nice to expand into tips in the design and development arenas, as I’m primarily a marketer. I see growing Big Picture Web into a blog with multiple authors, who would each bring their unique community and style.

Why did you decide to attend the MN Blogger Conference? Had your blog really started then, or did you find inspiration to really get it going?

I think it was a mix of both. The first MN Blogger Conference occurred right about the time I was starting to get the hang of things, and it was energizing to meet so many like-minded people. The conference really helped validate certain things that were working with my own blog, and alert me to a few things I was doing wrong that prevented my blog from growing.

What inspires you in relation to your blog?

I can try anything I want on my blog and I learn a ton in the process. We have constraints in so many areas of our lives. My blog has been my chance to learn so many amazing things by trying them out and seeing what happens. I believe this type of kinetic learning is a valuable skill in this era where the future seems closer every day.

Did you catch any inspiration at last year’s event?

Always. I got to know a little bit about each blogger and why they were successful. I’m inspired that what makes each blog worth reading varies greatly. Some blogs are amazing because they’re visual. Some because they’re articulate and verbose. Yet some still are all of those things. Every blog is unique, so it’s inspiring to think about what one might create.

Are you hoping to attend this year? Anything in particular you’re looking forward to/would like to learn about?

Absolutely! I’m most looking forward to connecting with the Minnesota blogging community throughout the day. I’ve developed friendships with a lot of the attendees over the last two years, and it will be lively and fun to connect with everyone through the stellar presentations at the MN Blogger Conference.



Tell me about your blog – when did it start, what is the intention/purpose, etc? went live on September 5, 2011.  We had both been blogging on other blogs that took up a lot of our time with little reward.  We were talking one day about ideas to help us spend more quality time with our children.  We decided to start a blog together to help us do just that.  (We know, it’s technically counter-productive, however, it really hasn’t been for us!)  Toys In The Dryer was started with purpose of being a “business” blog while helping us spend more time with our children.  We are rewarded not only with money, products, and opportunities, we are also rewarded with memories of time spent with our children!

Where do you see your blog in five years?

We would love to be big enough to have more people writing for us.  We would like to be making a minimum of $500 dollars a month.  We hope to have a large community of interactive readers.

Why did you decide to attend the MN Blogger Conference?  Had your blog really started then, or did you find inspiration to really get it going?

We wanted to network with other MN bloggers.  Toys In The Dryer had been live for five days when last year’s conference took place however, people knew our name because we had marketed ourselves and interacted with our future readers for several weeks via Facebook, Twitter, and our other blogs prior to going live.  I’m not sure if we found inspiration, per se, at the conference however we did educate ourselves and found great enthusiasm through networking.

What inspires you in relation to your blog?

Our children. Toys In The Dryer is about spending quality time with your children and making memories. Our children’s interests inspire us to become creative with ideas for them. Our blog helps us build our relationships with them as well.

Did you catch any inspiration at last year’s event?

Meeting bigger bloggers at the conference help us see our goals for our blog and what we want to become in the future.

Are you hoping to attend this year? Anything in particular you’re looking forward to/would like to learn about?

Yes, we are planning on attending this year’s conference.  We would love to see a session on the legalities of Pinterest.  Last year’s session on Facebook and other social networking sites was eye opening, however Pinterest was not as popular back then.  It has since become a huge part of gaining traffic to people’s blogs (including our own).

Experience Ad Fed MN Magazine Day 2012

Picture, for a moment, a large room. In the room there are rows of tables. Neatly stacked upon these tables are magazines. Not just a few, thousands. Every title imaginable is free for the taking, from GQ to Wired, Glamour to Newsweek. The doors open for the attendees to freely grab as many titles as they can fit into their bags.  Welcome to Magazine Day.

When I joined Ad Fed in 2010, I decided to get involved and join a committee. I picked the special events committee and when I heard about this event, I had something exciting to look forward to. Magazine Day 2011 was to be held in May. Cutting through all the boring-for-you-but-exciting-for-me planning details, I’ll jump right into the day-of experience.

There were about 200 attendees of Magazine Day 2011, ranging from ad sales representatives to high-level publishers. The atmosphere was calm as attendees grabbed their magazines for the “magazine grab” portion of the day. Following the conversations by swooning young women over Andy Samberg on the cover of Wired magazine was a sit down lunch. Attendees enjoyed a delicious meal and listened to Kelly Leach share insights with the group about magazine publishing.

Now, that was a rather bland review of Magazine Day 2011. It’s been almost a year since the event so I’m not recollecting it as well as I’d like. However, Magazine Day 2012 is going to be great. The word great doesn’t even describe it.

This year, the event has been given a face-lift. We are incorporating some pretty sweet (for lack of a better term) things. This self-proclaimed internet/Twitter/social media addict has been appointed chair of all things social, you can bet your bottom dollar that the social media integration will be stellar.

We have a panel of speakers and a master of ceremonies. But it’s not just any panel. These people know what they are talking about. They’re leaders and experts in the publishing industry.  They’ll answer the audiences questions in addition to planned questions to keep the conversation going.

While this all going on, we’ll be able to enjoy some amazing food. Since the event is being held at the Graves | 601 Hotel, we can be rest assured that our palates will be pleasantly satisfied.

And then you’ll go home with more magazines than you’ll know what to do with. Maybe you’ll discover something wonderful in Wired magazine and you’ll decide to subscribe! Pretty sure that after last year’s event I subscribed to about six different titles. It’s the event that continues all year long.

Where has the time gone?

I haven’t updated this blog in nearly three months. Yikes. I have a couple posts in progress and hope to get them out soon. Here’s a brief overview.

Planning is fully underway for two great Ad Fed events. Bowl-O-Rama is new this year, and is sure to be a hit. Shortly after that we have an industry favorite, Magazine Day.

Quite often I am asked “What is Magazine Day?”. I have a hard time describing it other than saying, it’s the best day, EVER. So I’ve got a post in the works about Magazine Day! Back to Bowl-O-Rama. Back in October I was asked to lead the committee for a brand new event. I immediately jumped at the chance, what a great opportunity! It’s been a wild ride, but I’ve enjoyed it. Being involved so closely with Ad Fed has not only  brought me closer to my friends and fellow committee members, but I feel as though I’ve grown professionally. More on that, later.

I took the winter term off from classes but will be right back in the swing of things come April. I’ll be taking two classes. After that I have eight or 10 left, and I’ll be done. I’m going for the world record of the longest time to complete a four-year degree. More to come on this.

Work in the corporate world has been wonderful. I’m so grateful to be employed with such a fabulous organization. I’m lucky that I can say, 95% of the time, I am excited to go work. I feel challenged, excited and trusted. The leadership I’m under is great. I love being able to directly collaborate with my boss, she’s such an amazing leader and great mentor. (as stated in my bio, these are my opinions)

I am LOVING Toastmasters! I can’t wait to write a post about Toastmasters and how much I’ve enjoyed it. I can tell, in so many instances, how far I’ve come from when I joined in July.

That summarizes some of the things keeping me busy lately. I look forward to sharing more!


My 2012 Professional Goals

Any successful organization, team or person runs by setting goals. It feels so great to CHECK off those goals once completed! I’ve found myself becoming more accepting of writing down realistic goals, when I plan to reach them and how I plan to reach them. Also, it’s okay to modify the goals! I always know that it’s OK to adjust things if it just isn’t going to happen. Some of my goals are tangible, like DO this, and some will be more intertwined with bigger goals.

The latter half of 2011 was very good for me professionally and I’m looking forward to moving that energy in 2012. At this time I can only see through the first quarter. With this, I know I want to focus myself on informational interviews. I want to meet people that are in positions I may want to be in and find out how they got there and what they love about it.

Here is a list of my professional goals, I will add to it, too!

1st Quarter 2012

Informational Interviews:

  • Communications department at current employer
  • Target corporate communications
  • Best Buy corporate communications
  • Someone in a creative/leadership position at an agency


  • On track to complete Competent Communicator manual by June 2012.
  • Complete speeches 5 – 8 by end of March 2012.


  • Taking accounting – aim for a B!
  • Also taking business practicum (internship) and using Ad Fed leadership role for this.

Ad Fed:

  • Leadership role with new bowling event.
  • Be a quality leader for committee.
  • Gather assessments and feedback for leadership role with committee, use this as a learning and growth experience.


  • Get a real website, i.e. to hold portfolio, blog, etc.
  • Hire a designer to make a logo
  • Get new business/networking cards

 I’m excited to get started on these, and add to the goals as the years kicks off and gets moving.

Do you set professional goals? How about personal?



Giving Thanks

What are your Thanksgiving plans?

I am starting my Thanksgiving this evening, picking up my cousin Rachel. Rachel is a very active and busy 15 year old, she doesn’t have a lot of time for her old cousin. I’m glad we get to spend this time together! We will do some last minute Thanksgiving food shopping (what a nightmare) and bum around a bit. I a foresee manicures in our future followed by an early bedtime.

Tomorrow, bright and early, we will be downtown Minneapolis for the Lifetime Fitness Turkey Day 5k. I haven’t been training so I’m not going to be finishing in a record time but it will be much warmer than last year’s race. Last year was apparently the coldest Thanksgiving in 20 years, it was bad! I’m looking forward to that. Rachel loves running and I love seeing her be so excited to “come to the big city” and run a race.

After that, I’ll try to sneak in a nap and some coffee before going to grandma’s. I’ve been put in charge of bringing rolls. Clearly, grandma knows my level of culinary skills. I’m also bringing some Muddy Paws Cheesecake!  It has been difficult keeping a cheesecake in my freezer for four days but it WILL make it to grandma’s. Being the oldest grandkid has its perks in that I have 11 younger cousins who are closer in age than I am with any of them. It’s fun watching them play and laugh.

For the first time in five years, I have the day after Thanksgiving off! I’m not sure if I will head out to the mall to shop or just relax but I will be having a relaxing day in general. I will go to my new favorite Friday night hang out, Moksha Yoga, for some Karma yoga.

I’m very thankful for the opportunities I’ve had, both professionally and personally, and I look forward to celebrating with my family. Enjoy the day of rest!