cristina chats with…linnie!

I met Linnie of Linnie at Large at our Night in Raleighwood party. I remember thinking how pretty and friendly she was! Since that party, I’ve seen her at The Raleigh Forum for brown bag lunches, several blog events {including the recent #NCMAPinup event and our wine tasting at The Wine Feed}, and even her birthday party a few days ago! She continually impresses me with her open attitude, constant exploration of Raleigh, her new position as a committee head for Change the Triangle, and most of all, her commitment to “living large.” Can’t wait to have more shenanigans with Linnie 🙂

 “This picture means so much to me because it was taken by one of my best friends, Veronica Sharon, amidst a fun filled day in my favorite city: New York.”

Share your 6 word memoir with me.
Believe. Dreams really do come true.

Tell me a fun fact.
I’ve traveled the world and have lived in all four corners of the country.

Why do you blog?
Blogging is therapy. It gives me a chance to share my new adventures in Raleigh with others. I hope it inspires people to get to know the world around them, dream big, and live LARGE!

How did you come up with your blog title and content?
I love to travel and I’m always on the go. I thought “Linnie at Large” would be the perfect way to capture my personality and passion for exploring new sights.

If you could improve your blog in one way, what would you do?
Over the last few months I’ve spent (way too much) time formatting my blog in a way that fits my personality best. I’m really loving the layout right now. However, in terms of content, I would love to travel more and then introduce others to the world beyond their immediate reach through my blog.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from blogging?
Always check your spelling and grammar! Read your post out loud before you publish to catch simple mistakes. Make sure to give credit where credit is due.

What is the best thing you’ve gotten out of your blog {friend, product, etc}?
I can’t help but thank Cristina for introducing me to the “Triangle Blog Girls.” Shortly after I started “Linnie at Large” she invited me to a blogger event with a bunch of other smart, driven women who are dedicated to their blogs and enriching the lives of others. I’ve made great friends and have been exposed to so many new ideas and opportunities through this one fabulous group of girls.

What’s your favorite post so far? What is your most popular?
My favorite post was my Birthday Fun at Fab’rik, because it captured all of my favorite things: fashion, fun, and friends. It was a representation of the family I have built and grown to love since moving to Raleigh. My most popular post was about the Redress Raleigh Fashion Show were several designers in the Triangle showcased their unique and original designs.

Describe your blog using 6 tags/hashtags.
#fashion #Raleigh #fun #TheCarterBuilding #wine #thebloggirls

If you could only read one blog for the rest of your life, which would it be {something other than mine even though that’s a natural first choice haha!}?
I’m still new to this whole blogging thing, but I really enjoy reading fashion blogs. They help satisfy my shopping addiction without spending a dime. Plus, they showcase the latest trends before they go mainstream. I really enjoy keeping up with Tiffany Style and Mollie in Seattle.

What is your favorite part of the Triangle?
The inner loop! On my days off you’ll find me either downtown or Glenwood South. If I’m not there, then I’m usually walking or jogging between the two!

If you could spend the day anywhere in the Triangle, where would it be?
Lately I’ve enjoyed spending the day at the pool when the weather allows, but I also enjoy popping in and out of stores and cafes in downtown Raleigh or along Glenwood South.

What’s one job that you secretly {or not-so-secretly} want?
I love my job. I’ve worked long, hard hours to land the job I have here in Raleigh. I wouldn’t trade it for anything.

What is your favorite word and why?
I enjoy saying and getting into: shenanigans!

What is your favorite recipe to make {provide a link if you’d like}?
My new year’s resolution was to cook more, and so far I’ve been pretty successful! I absolutely LOVE this salmon recipe that’s super easy to make!

What’s your favorite season? Why?
There’s something about summer that’s so simple and carefree. I enjoy spending my summer days by a lake or pool until the day turns to night. There’s something about a summer sunset that’s absolutely magical.


Blog girls: Want to be featured? Shoot me an email!


#ncmapinup event recap

When I was searching for a roommate on Craigslist, I ended up meeting a few great girls who didn’t end up becoming my roommate for one reason or another. So guess what? I turned them into friends! I realize it sounds very strange to most people, but I do have a history of making friends online 🙂

One girl I met works at the NC Museum of Art and she emailed me an invite to a Pinterest party at the museum. My first reaction was obviously “#Pinning!” {because I refuse to stop saying #Winning even though I know that ship has sailed}. My second reaction was to forward the invite along to a group of random girls in the area- turns out, I wasn’t the only one who was excited. My sister thought it was the nerdiest thing ever, but we ignored her 🙂

First stop: food obviously. We suspected that all the recipes were found on Pinterest. Such a cute set-up!
I’m not usually a fan of goat cheese but I loved these bacon and herb chevre pops! And they were the only gluten-free option so they were my go-to snack!

My beloved chevre pops with the other food in the background- strawberries and angel food shortcake with icing drizzle and ciabatta bread with roasted vegetable and white bean hummus. Since I couldn’t eat the shortcake, Sara and I tag-teamed the dessert- she ate the poundcake and I got the strawberry!

Panel of Pinterest users including Cynthia Deis of Ornamentea, Amanda of Wit & Whistle, Lee Cherry of One Bit Pixel, and moderator Kailee Brown of Ignite Social Media. P.S. Loved the simple yellow flowers in the center of all the tables!

And then of course it was time for dress up! Our fun random group: {Bottom from left to right} Caitlin, Sara, Linnie {Top from left to right} Colette, Erica, me, Linsey, and Lindsey! Some of the girls already knew each other, but it was fun to introduce everyone else to each other 🙂 Nothing makes you bond more than silly pictures {while, maybe waiting in bathroom lines together}.

Pretending to be normal

Biggest takeaways:

  • Best quote: “[Pinterest is like]  window shopping for the soul.” – Lee Cherry
  • Apparently people use Pinterest as a platform to bash others. Keep these thoughts in mind before typing a negative comment.
  • Use water marks to protect your images before they get pinned.
  • Somebody suggested that Pinterest automatically add a water mark to protect the copyrights of contributors whose images get pinned.
  • Pinterest now automatically tells you if an image has been pinned from Flickr {like this image that I used under the Creative Commons licensing for my chicken bacon lentil soup recipe}.
  • Pinterest generates revenue for items purchased through the site if the original site has an affiliate program. I had no idea!  I say good for them for monetizing so early, but disclosure is probably a good policy.
  • Just because it’s on Pinterest doesn’t mean it’s fair game- be sure to take the time to find the original source to give them credit {try Chrome’s Search by Image Extension, which allows you to right-click on an image and find everywhere that the image is housed on the web}.

Thanks so much to the NC Museum of Art, all the panelists, and of course Linsey for inviting us!

public criticism: a do or a don’t?

The idea of public criticism has been tumbling around in my head for many months, but the catalyst for this post was the recent Triangle bloggers’ potluck.

Public criticism of businesses and individuals has become somewhat of a norm as Twitter continues to grow, blogging becomes more mainstream, and small businesses embrace social media.

I myself {what a redundant phrase!} have engaged in this trend. When Maddie was sick, I had a terrible experience with a local vet. After dealing with the situation- including finding a new vet- I reviewed the original vet on Google. I felt it was important for other pet owners to be aware of the negative {and potentially dangerous} experience I had.

I’m less proud of other times that I’ve publicly bashed a local company. After perusing a cute retail store, I left in a huff and immediately tweeted about the terrible service I received. To the owner’s credit, they found my email and sent me a message addressing the situation. Guess what I did? Nothing. I was too embarrassed about my behavior to respond. That was almost a year ago and I still think about it.

Several things have made me reconsider my perspective lately: as a small business owner, I know how hurtful it can be to think about negative information circulating about The Raleigh Forum. I know that there are always two sides to the story that a negative review or comment may not address. Additionally, Raleigh is small enough that you are likely to run into the very owner that you publicly chastised, which leads to excessive and unnecessary awkwardness.

But like I said, the blog potluck got me thinking even more. At the potluck, someone mentioned a hate website devoted to mocking big bloggers {I refuse to link to it}.  I think the supposed anonymity of the internet makes people feel more comfortable participating in cyber-bullying without pausing to think about the bloggers’ feelings. Another prime case study on cyber-bullying? The disheartening Juicy Campus fiasco.

I’m torn because it’s a complicated issue but here’s where I think I stand: A good rule of thumb is to first contact the business or individual privately. Admittedly,  some businesses are more responsive when criticism is made public. The idea that their brand is being publicly disparaged is often a more prompt catalyst for change than a private phone call or email, so I do think there are times when it is appropriate to take to social media to leave feedback.

Another good rule of thumb- act under the expectation that your tweet, review, comment, etc will be seen by the owner, CEO, or blogger- and that your name will be attached to it. Does that change the way you interact when your anonymity is taken away and you consider the feelings of the person receiving the feedback? I guarantee you that even the most popular bloggers have feelings too and are affected by hurtful, mean-spirited comments.

But remember my Ask and You Shall Receive post from awhile back? I stated that if you are willing to broadcast negative feedback, you should go out of your way to give positive feedback. For every negative comment I publicize, I’m sure to share my positive experiences too {like my endless love affair with Al Fresco chicken sausages}.

What do you think?  Is public criticism sometimes warranted or should feedback only be given privately?

P.S. Right after I scheduled this post,  I got a reply tweet from Raleigh author Sarah Shaber saying thank you for my tweet complimenting her novel. See? I do give positive feedback 🙂

the debut of my new blog design

I know you all remember my Twitter friend Sara. I mentioned to her awhile back that I wanted to revamp my blog, so she offered to help me out. Since I love quatrefoil and the combination of gray and pink, I wanted a fun but not overwhelming design that incorporated these elements. While at first I felt iffy about having my name in such big, prominent letters, I realized that it was a valid branding tactic, since this is my little corner of the internet after all 🙂

In Sara’s words: “We combined our brains and creative powers and created this new and fresh look for her, and with only a billion changes (some because she couldn’t decide and some because I couldn’t decide) (and yes we are still friends), her new header image has joined her new and fresh WordPress custom template to give her blog a nice and clean look. I think it says “I like pink” without saying “I’M OBSESSED WITH PINK” and scaring any male readers away.”

I do have a few male readers (hello out there, guys!) so I thought this was a valid point.

I also switched over to a new WordPress theme: Forever by Automattic. I thought it was a much crisper but still cozy look than my old Bueno theme, which is ubiquitous in the blogging world and screamed “free WordPress template” to me!

What do you think?! If you need any design work done, contact Sara over at Watermelon Roses!

P.S. If anyone knows how to get rid of that awkward white space in between the header and the blog posts, let me know 🙂

cristina chats with…heather!

The first time Heather Allen emailed us about coworking space, we knew she was exactly the kind of person we wanted as the first founding member of The Raleigh Forum. Over the past 7 months, we’ve spent countless days in the office together, attended numerous downtown Raleigh networking events, joined the same gym, and drank a glass or two of wine together {her boyfriend owns The Wine Feed!}. She’s inspirational, creative, and hilarious- I love the story of the time she insisted on talking like a hillbilly for an entire car ride 🙂

When she launched her blog project, 52 Weeks of Celebrated Imagination, it was obviously time for her to join the blog group!

“This image shows me in my urban element, camera in hand, excited by what’s happening on the other side of my lens!” -Heather

Share your 6 word memoir with me. Creative. Random. Compulsive Yes-er. Visionary. ENFJ.

Tell me a fun fact. I can whistle like nobody’s business.

Why do you blog? I blog to celebrate the creative talents of others, to share small business and marketing know-how with career artists, and to promote the work of those I represent.

How did you come up with your blog title and content? At first I wanted to use the words “Inspirational Fodder” (like food for thought) but it didn’t have a good ring to it. My “52 Weeks” Blog presents a new theme each week in which an interactive conversation starts on the business Facebook page, and is wrapped up in archival form in the Creative Week in Review which is posted on the blog. You never know what can happen in 52 Weeks.

If you could improve your blog in one way, what would you do? I would improve the amount of time I have to devote to it. I’m very excited by and about my company blog, but as mentioned above, I’m a compulsive yes-er/volunteer and have a lot of activities occupying my plate simultaneously. Ideally, I’d like to push out more great content in less time.

What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned from blogging? I’ve learned a lot from other bloggers, particularly about the importance of maintaining my voice and quirks in my text. I just hired a contributing blogger–his voice is very different from mine and should add some zest! Additionally, as my theme is a celebration of the work of others, I avidly cite, credit and fact-check content.

Describe your blog using 6 tags/hashtags. #FineArtsMarketing #Marketing4SmArtBiz #inspiring #celebration! #Dang! #share!

If you could only read one blog for the rest of your life, which would it be? Gosh golly, I have no clue! There are so many incredible blogs out there. I suppose I would read one that serves as a digest of a bunch! How about them apples?

If you could spend the day anywhere in the Triangle, where would it be?  Hands down, inside the NCMA and outside in the enormous park behind the NCMA.

What’s one job that you secretly {or not-so-secretly} want?  To be a creativity coach. Just need a few certificates and more time with my clients. I’m halfway there.

What is your favorite word and why? Chicken Sandwich. Seriously. There are a lot of satisfying consonants in that short two-worder. And it makes for a great response to just about any question starting with “What would you like?”

What’s your favorite season? Why? Fall has been my favorite season since I moved to North Carolina. It’s a time of reflection, magic and a still calming that’s only here for a short while.

To connect with Heather, follow her on Twitter and check out her newly launched website

how to find scintillating blogs

Source: via Jillee on Pinterest


It’s sometimes difficult to find beneficial, enticing blogs that you can’t wait to catch up on. I have several “go tos,” but it’s always nice to periodically add a few more! Here’s how I find worthwhile blogs:

Blog rolls– once you find blogs that you love, see what blogs they love {blog rolls are generally found on the right sidebar}

Tags on WordPress– click here for a list of the most common tags or on your WordPress homepage, click the “Read Blogs” tab. You can add topics there {I have added “Raleigh,” “Social Enterprise,” and “Gluten-Free Cooking.”

FoodPress.comtheir tagline is “Serving up the hottest dishes on WordPress” and they are indeed! Search through posts that have been “FoodPressed” to find new recipes on new blogs {one of my posts popped up on the site one time!}

Google Reader– once you have added a subscription, click “Feed settings,” then “More like this”

Comments– I periodically browse through the comments on my favorite blogs. Commenters are often bloggers and you can follow their URLs back to their pages!

Pinterest– This newbie platform is quickly shifting the game of blogging. It’s incredible to me that I can send a picture to Pinterest and have hundreds of hits to my blog within minutes. Search for random interesting topics to find a carefully curated group of results, which ultimately link back to blogs.

How else do you find cool blogs to follow? 

insider blogging info

During the wine tasting event with the blog girls, we discussed the ins and outs of the blog world. Tons of great advice was shared and it seems like it could all be summed up by one common thread and two words: read blogs.What do I mean by that? As a blog reader, you get a feel for what you like and what you don’t like.

You get an idea of what designs you like, including fonts, graphics, layout {I sent Sara a few of my favorites, like this, this, and this}.

You get an idea for what kind of content you like {I like looking at a mix of aesthetically pleasing graphics + personal narratives}.

You get an idea of what blog strategies work for you {I think two posts per day is perfect}.

And then you can implement these ideas on your own blog. Sara is designing a pretty header for me. I’m searching for a photography class so I can provide my readers with images to accompany my writing. And I post an average of two posts per day {one at 9:35am!}.

I’m not saying steal other bloggers’ ideas, of course. For example, I love Anne’s 5 Minute Packable Lunches, but I wouldn’t take that idea and pass it off as my own. Instead, it complements a little series I already do, which I call Lunchbox Meals.

And that, my friends, is your insider blogging info for the day.

Have questions? Ask me and I’ll pass your questions along to the other blog girls!

Source: via Patricia on Pinterest