Archive for the 'British Columbia' Category

Arianna’s Random Thoughts in British Columbia

in Activism, British Columbia, Coaching, Personal Blog, Photography and Professional Service

Arianna Random Thoughts blog banner, Hawaii beachArianna Merritt, blogger, BCArianna Merritt, M.Ed., is a Learning and Development Specialist in British Columbia who started blogging three years ago to serve up some random thoughts. Today she’s a tri-weekly source of inspiration for hundreds of regular readers, and has her own self help book on store shelves, Arianna’s blog offers unique insight into the human condition and a fresh perspective on the art of perseverance.

Arianna’s Random Thoughts is the sort of name a new blogger might call a test space upon which they practice handcrafting their first posts. Random thoughts are generally worth less than well ordered thinking only because abstract content is less findable in the grand scheme of things. New blogs filled with ‘random thoughts’ usually fade away after the first couple of posts, or get deleted when the author learns enough to find a proper style, or a suitably interesting cause. But Arianna persevered with her original portal because random thoughts and perseverance are her causes.

The author conceived the blog while on vacation in Hawaii. That’s why the banner is an artful representation of an ocean beach scene. Presumably she had a rush of random thoughts while sitting on the beach, but I suspect there’s more to this story than that.  Her first post is titled, Do Not Be Afraid To Ask Questions.

The About Arianna Merritt badge on her blog sidebarArianna Merritt, M.Ed. encourages her blog readers and the individuals she coaches to reach their full potential by finding their own voices and sharing their own stories.

Her own life experiences, including her career and her professional life, have caused her to study the positive effects of perseverance, mentoring, self-worth, body-image counseling, and bullying prevention.  She has seen the good she can do first hand.

A six foot tall woman, Arianna once had some issues with her own body image, and she has suffered through long periods of low self esteem. She was bullied throughout her childhood, and today remembers being scared of standing out in the crowd. Consequently, she adopted a diminutive posture because she didn’t want to draw attention to herself.  And she was very shy. Perhaps that’s why the author’s first book is entitled, Stand Tall & Speak From the Heart: How to Find Your Way and seems to be about finding the strength to be proud and mentally independent.

She writes about where she was raised, and how the kids in her family, and other families around town were taught to mask their personal issues and put a brave face on their true feelings; she would say “I’m fine” even though she was struggling with body image issues, or worse.

After graduation from her undergraduate program, Arianna moved out west and started to crave deep connections – in relationships and life and hence that’s why she started blogging, to reach out and connect with other people on a deeper, more personal level. It’s an extreme act of bravery for a shy girl.

Arianna Merritt recording her random thoughts by the oceanShe writes, “In today’s society, the focus is on becoming successful, and being a success. So many of us focus on the outcome, and always look ahead without looking around them and enjoying the journey.  Many of us give up hope on our dreams because there are too many obstacles on their path.  They are unaware that everyone else has obstacles too and they just need to persevere to succeed.  Sometimes when our light dims, that’s when we need others to help brighten or change our perspective. “

In Arianna’s post, What it means to be a role model, she writes,

Two of the most important lessons I have learned on my journey are to persevere and to talk about issues.  I am not perfect, have obstacles on my path, and make mistakes.  I have also been a talker to them and would rather talk about issues than keep them inside. Arianna

Arianna on rock beach for inspirationA truly unique individual, Arianna’s vivacious personality flows from her pen to colour her blog prose. Readers soon understand this girl loves traveling, teaching and connecting with others.  She loves water and is empowered by the ocean, lakes and rivers in British Columbia. She’s passionate about photography and uses the craft to help chronicle her life.  She writes,  “…that’s why my blog is set up in a travel journal form, as 1) I love the water and am empowered by it, and 2) its designed to share the lessons I have learned (in written form and through photos), and document the people I have met on my journey.”

I truly believe that when you share you story with others and speak from the heart, you give others permission to do the same.  I’m starting the conversation. Arianna Merritt

As she continues to learn and grow, Arianna’s blog will grow too and serve as a place where people can feel empowered and connect with others. Some of the authors best posts include,

The Power of Kindness

Standing Firm Against The Tide

Let’s Rock the Boat

Arianna made her first blog domain her permanent home and saw it through to success.  She even upgraded her WordPress.com account to buy the URL and host it herself, and truly be the master of her own .com domain; here she has built and decorated a beautiful shrine to her own random thoughts and we are all her fortunate guests.

Post by on Feb 13, 2013


Danielle LeBlanc is Poor and Gluten Free in White Rock

in Blogging, British Columbia, food blog, niche blogs and Personal Blog

Poor and Gluten Free

The misconception that healthy food tastes terrible has been proven wrong many times over, but what of the persistent complaint many Canadians make that health food is unaffordable? Danielle LeBlanc is a food blogger in White Rock, British Columbia, who has spent several years perfecting her take on a gourmet, gluten free diet–on a budget. A history buff with a Masters Degree focused on modern Middle Eastern and Egyptian cinema, she runs a small business that designs Middle Eastern dance costumes. When she’s not watching obscure old Egyptian flicks, you’ll likely find her writing about her latest “dangerous kitchen shenanigans,” as her husband likes to call them. “I come from a family of cooks,” says Danielle. “Not professionals, but people who love to make good, healthy food. Even my grandfather–he made a mean buckwheat pancake!”

Gluten Free Beet BreadPoor and Gluten Free chronicles the culinary adventures of a creative spirit who doesn’t let the restrictions of Oral Allergy Syndrome interfere with her prolific outpouring of scrumptious recipes. The blog was born out of her struggle with her condition: “I went through a terrible period where I was very ill,” says Danielle. “I was always exhausted, then hay fever kicked in, so I was stuffy and sneezy all the time. Suddenly I developed hives. I think my body kind of shut down–I got pink eye in both eyes and a sinus infection that was so bad it plugged up my left ear! I was wretched, and with two pink eyes and swollen sinuses I looked as awful as I felt.”

Danielle went to see an allergist and found out she had a gluten allergy, as well as Oral Allergy Syndrome (to learn more about OAS, see her excellent post). Both of these conditions are on the rise; in fact, studies have shown that North Americans today are four times more likely to suffer gluten intolerance than in the 1950s. Suspected reasons for this are the genetic modification and hybridization of the wheat plant, as well as the increase in glutinous substances in a variety of other processed foods.

“After spending a couple of years living on a tight budget while experimenting in the kitchen I felt that I Danielle LeBlanc - Poor and Gluten Freemight have something to offer other people, so they wouldn’t have to suffer as much as I did,” says Danielle.

She was right about having something to offer people. Shortly after getting started as a blogger, the comments started rolling in. People all over the world were trying her recipes and sharing stories about their own experiences living and cooking with OAS. She was also nominated under Best Health Blog in the 2012 Canadian Blog Awards.

“I’ve encountered some wonderful bloggers and readers,” Danielle says. “I also feel that I’ve helped some people learn a thing or two, whether it be cooking gluten free, using scrap fabric or dealing with lettuce allergies. Maybe it’s an ego thing, but it feels good to know that you’ve helped somebody in some small way.”

Making Gluten Free SpaetzleDanielle’s are indeed intended to teach and inform, like the article she posted on Canada Day 2012, entitled Canadian Food 101.

My Sprouted Lentil Bread recipe is the ‘best’ post in terms of traffic,” says Danielle. “It was an early experiment in trying to make cheap, easy gluten free bread…I’m glad so many people have found it helpful!”

 

For sentimental reasons, Danielle’s post on making German Gluten Free Spaetzle is one of her favourites. Her Polish grandfather met her German grandmother after WWII; he had been captured by Nazis and forced to work as a labourer. Her grandparents married and moved to Canada, where they served spaetzle to their children and grandchildren. “Creating this recipe brought back some wonderful childhood memories,” says Danielle. “Gluten free spaetzle is also the #1 search term by far that helps people to find my blog, so I hope it helps bring back good memories for other people, too!”

Writing the blog has also fostered Danielle’s growth as a gluten free cook extraordinaire: “My Gluten FreeGluten Free Ravioli with Squash Ravioli is one of my favourite posts,” she says. “And oh boy is it pride! Gluten free baking can be really tricky, so when my GF ravioli dough made with pureed beets came out perfect the first try I was totally stunned. I felt like I had finally ‘arrived’ as a GF cook. I think [it’s] a great demonstration of how far I’ve come since I started my blog.”

Danielle’s plans for her blog’s future include delving deeper into the “…fabulously fascinating yet shockingly time consuming” world of social networking, as well as a new series she’s started on her blog called Waste Not Want Not, and sharing innovative ways to live more sustainably and frugally.

A perfectionist, Danielle is still working on her definition of what makes an ideal blog post. So far, she’s come up with: “I think a good blog post should be informative, accessible, easy to read (or skim as most people do), and maybe even make people chuckle a little.” It’s working for her.

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NEXT Robert Campbell writes that to find me a dentist near home is an acid test for local search engines. 


KD Faustino, the girl with the messy hair in Calgary

in Alberta, Blogging, British Columbia, Canadian pop culture, Culture Blogger, Fashion Blogger, Personal Blog, Photography, style diary and Web Designer


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thegirlwiththemessyhair.com

KD Faustino is a fashion blogger and ‘style diarist’ based in Calgary, Alberta, who describes herself as ‘a 20-something fashion buyer and social media extraordinaire who left her sunny tropical islander life in the Philippines to live in freezing cold Canada.’  She has a lot of energy and is a prolific blogger; only four months after her arrival her blog was named one of the top fifteen Canadian fashion blogs of 2010*.  Her effortless style and discerning eye for fashion, made her blog an instant hit.

The girl with the messy hair is a style diary that KD (Kristine Diane) Faustino started in April 2009, while still living in Manila, to chronicle her daily outfits.

“I blog today simply because it makes me happy,” she says. “As narcissistic as it may sound, I blog for myself. It might seem shallow, but there’s really no hidden agenda behind my blogging, just that dressing up and fashion makes me happy. The compliments/recognition I get, inspiring other people with finding their style and the perks from brands/designers are just a plus for me.”

Faustino is a social media professional, and works as Social Media Head for Fashion Night Out Canada, Fabricated, and a fashion buyer for Citizen’s Planet. Her expertise in social media is apparent throughout her blog, and she’s a PR natural: “I think what makes my blog (or any blog for that matter) unique is the individual behind the blog itself,” she says. “If you stay true to yourself, your style, why you are blogging, your overall brand–it will show. You have to come to terms with the fact that blogging can be a serious business but at the same time, still having fun while doing it!”

Hailing from the tropical Philippines, KD’s had to adjust her style (not just fashion-wise but lifestyle as well) to Canada’s often frigid temperatures. Her islander spirit has brought a fresh new style to Calgary’s fashion scene and she’s embraced the challenges along the way–and posed for many a picture featuring piles of snow in the background instead of a beach. “I live in Calgary and the biggest [influence] it has on my blog is the weather!” she says. “As silly as it may sound, that’s the challenge of dressing in a bipolar city (in terms of weather) like Calgary.

#1 Holts Muse KD Faustino“I think the best thing that ever happened to me due to blogging was being recognized for something that wasn’t meant to be recognized at all,” says KD. “When I started blogging I was just doing my own thing but then I started getting recognized and awarded [Top 15 Canadian Fashion Blogs*, Honorary Blogger of the Year in the 2011 Calgary Fashion Honorary Awards, Top 5 Best Overall Blog & Top 4 Best Personal Blog at the Canadian Blog Awards 2011, 1st Place Holts Muse by Holt Renfrew, MTV Blogger Looks we Love, etc.] by the industry and being on the same lists as the people I look up to, or just by random people in random places (which is more flattering, to say the least). What makes it special is the fact that I started this blog all by myself without the help of anyone–it is certainly my baby, something that I am proud of.” See two of KD’s personal favourite posts: http://www.thegirlwiththemessyhair.com/2011/06/crochet.html, and http://www.thegirlwiththemessyhair.com/2012/01/brown-hues.html. The worst part? “Definitely the haters,” she says. “But you know what they say, you know you’ve made it when you’ve got them.”

KD at workKD isn’t certain whether or not she’ll keep the blog going after her thirtieth birthday in two years. “The good thing about my blog is that I don’t feel pressured,” she says. “I am at this point in my blogging career where I feel like I’m not anxious to get anywhere. I can choose which events I want to go to or not, what brands I want to work with–I don’t need to be everywhere, unlike when I was starting. I must say, it’s a good place to be at. And who knows, maybe after 30 I’ll turn my blog around to a travel blog or something like that!”

In the meantime, however, KD will be focusing on maintaining the high quality of her blog. “The ideal blog for me starts with decent hi-resolution photos,” she reveals. “People tend to look at photos first and then they start to read if your photos are interesting enough. A short, constructive write-up with readable font is a must for me, too. Above all, [the ideal blog is about] keeping your stuff interesting and making people come back for more.”



Niki Blasina is A Haute Mess in Vancouver

in British Columbia, Fashion Blogger and Vancouver


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Niki Blasina write A Haute Mess, fashion blog in Vancouver British Columbia

"It's fashion, and it's fun!" -Niki BlasinaNiki Blasina is a fashion blogger living and working as a freelance writer in Vancouver British Columbia. Her passion for fashion could have taken her to style Meccas like New York or Paris, but she has spread her couture wings and helped build a scene in her own beautiful city. Vancouver has an active textiles, garments industry and many print media and web publishers, and Niki has become a respected local authority on style and fashion; she writes for MTV Canada’s FORA, for Huffington Post Canada as a style blogger, and of course she has her own hit blog.

A Haute Mess is Niki’s fun filled approach to high fashion. She’s got style on page and in her pictures. What’s most interesting about Niki’s blog is how she presents her ideas – she’s got style on style as she blogs in a fun and unpretentious manner; ‘A Haute Mess’ is a blog that stays true to its title. There is plenty of forward-thinking fashion photos for readers to feast their eyes upon, but Niki combines her penchant for profiling trends with an approachable honesty,  earnestly publishing her own anecdotal stores about fashion blunders and the foils that all girls fall prey to: bad hair days, skin irritations and unflattering photographs.

A Haute Mess at home“I started blogging because I was a fan of fashion blogs, and a dear friend and fashion blogger said ‘Why don’t you start your own blog’,” says Niki. But “…the idea of putting pictures of myself on the internet seemed like a horror movie waiting to be written, and was way more narcissism than I could be comfortable with. But I did it anyway!” And she doesn’t regret it. Niki’s blog is stronger because readers can see her wearing the duds and leading the charge. Her posts often acrue twenty or more comments and a great many from other bloggers.

Niki, already a PR representative, found out immediately that writing a blog is a great way to open new doors. Within a year of writing her first post, opportunities were pouring in from all directions: “I owe so much to blogging and A Haute Mess,” she says. “It’s been a life-changing experience for me and I’ve had so many interesting and fun opportunities because of it.”

Niki Blasina as web star on the cover of Flare Magazine

Mixing cool prints with leather

Niki Blasina is profiled in FLARE magazine, February 2012

Niki’s adventures in blogging have connected her to a larger fashion community, and her readers have the pleasure of sharing this new found fame with her. In her recent post Sit DOWN Mayan Calendar: These Fashion Folk have Bigger Plans for 2012, Niki asked some of fashion’s darlings to spill their New Year’s resolutions, giving her readers an inside scoop into the thought processes of some of her contacts in the industry.

Style-wise, Niki likes to try everything–glam, retro, boho, rock ‘n roll–and her readers wait hungrily to see what she’ll be wearing next; in fact, Niki admits that she can’t keep up with requests. Most readers beg to to see her personal style diaries. She features two popular recurring series on her blog, Outfits and Outtakes, “which is basically a self-deprecating blooper reel of my personal style photos,” she says, and Terms in Fashion that Make Me Uncomfortable, “which is a vocab lesson on awkward terminology in fashion.” Of the series she says: “Like most of my blog, they serve as a reminder that fashion doesn’t need to be taken so seriously and that people do need to lighten up! It’s fashion, and it’s fun!”

sunny in hawaii, niki blasina relaxes by the ocean, author, haute messNiki has a Tumblr blog too which she uses like a reader’s digest version of her own domain to highlight her best pictures and call attention to the more significant journalism found there. Her Twitter persona @AHauteMess follows the same strategy but is peppered with celebrity gossip and cute photos and videos and is no doubt the source of some inspiration for her blog.

Niki Blasina, A Haute Mess on Facebook

A Haute Mess is a great resource for fashionistas and fresh apprentices – because its fun and flirty!

“I just want [my blog] to continue growing its audience and get bigger and better!” says Niki. “2012 is going to be a good year for me and me wee blog, and I have a lot of exciting projects in the works that I can’t disclose yet, but I am really looking forward to sharing soon.”


 


XOXO Jes Pop Culture in Calgary

in Alberta, British Columbia, Canadian pop culture, Culture Blogger and humourist

XOXO JES This is me sitting on a hay bale. Self-explanatory.

Jes of XOXO is a humorous and often sarcastic voice situated in Calgary, Alberta, or “Calgs” as she calls it. She’s a prolific blogger that’s always up to date on the latest entertainment and events in her hometown, and she shares celebrity gossip from around the world. A self-proclaimed hater of many things, Jes loves writing; her blog is nominated in the categories of Overall Humour, Best Post and Pop Culture Blog in the upcoming 2011 Canadian Blog Awards.

XOXO Jes tagline is “There’s something fascinating about things you don’t need to know,” is a pop culture roundup (in the crass and vulgar tradition) of current events – its the only one of its kind in Calgary. “If I knew the secret behind people’s obsession with fame and celebrity I would totally capitalize on it,” Jes says. Kate Gosselin“All I know is that there is a large group of people who seem to care that Justin Bieber cut his hair and I would like to be the one to tell them…with some added sass and a couple zingers.”

Jes graduated university a year earlier than her friends, and she found herself watching a lot of Friends reruns after work while her real friends plodded through their homework. She was restless, and even though Friends has the distinction of holding an infinite place on her Love List, she knew she couldn’t watch the same episodes over and over forever. So, she turned to Jon and Kate Plus 8 and the rest is history: “Kate Gosselin annoyed me so much I would rage about her for hours, literally, to my roommate’s dismay,” Jes explains. “I finally decided to put in in writing and that’s when the blog was born. No joke, you can go back to the beginning and see that Kate started it all. Thanks Kate, you did one good thing. Only one.”

Jes didn’t start blogging with any intentions to be the next Perez Hilton–“there was no deep thought behind my first post, or any of the ones after that,” she jokes. “If I were to stop blogging today there wouldn’t be a domino effect of destruction or any kind of Backstage with Ben and Tyler of Said the Whale at Junofest void left in the universe. No, honestly, I started blogging because I like to write my opinions and I keep doing it because I still enjoy it and for some reason people seem to like it, grammatical errors and all.” Since that fateful first encounter with the Gosselin family, Jes has written over a thousand posts, interviewed some of her favourite entertainers like Vancouver band Said the Whale, been called a “Fairy Godmother” by a Juno winner, and even scored VIP access to the Cowboys Tent at the Calgary Stampede. “Trust me, it’s a big deal,” she says, adding, “Just kidding…kind of.”

Celebrities and entertainers choose a public life, and in so doing share their talents (and shortcomings) with the world. But why blog about them? “There are tons of crass rude blogs out there in every form, and since entertainers are such easy targets there are more of those types than others,” says Jes, although she’s the first to admit that her blog was not an original concept. What makes it unique, however, is that it’s the only one of its kind based XOXO Jes with Kevin Costner at the Calgary Stampedein Calgary. “Calgs is an interesting city that has hidden relevant-to-what-I-write gems that I explore,” she says. Of course, Cow-town celeb gossip is not an every day occurrence so I fill with various other Canadian entertainment stories or the more general stories of the hour. Most of my readers come from Calgary; [I’m] not sure if that is because they know me, heard of me or have searched something relevant to the city which has led them to my blog. All I know is that I have many Calgary faithfuls. That being said, I could probably live in the Yukon and still do the same thing. Live show reviews may be difficult, but I am sure they have the occasional performer up there…right?!”

It isn’t always easy for Jes to keep on top of work, life and blogging, but juicy celebrity scandals keep pouring in along with new TV shows, albums and viral videos. To maintain consistency, Jes established the XOXO Weeklies, three posts her readers can expect week after week: Top 5 comes out on Mondays, and lists a Jes’ top 5 picks for whatever is on her mind on a given week. Out This Weekend lists movies hitting theatres, and Jes’ pick for which one looks best. #NowPlaying: MG’s Pick of the Week is written by MG, a woman from Halifax, Nova Scotia–the only guest blogger featured on XOXO Jes–who recommends a tune every Friday.

For Jes, a good blog is an honest one. She doesn’t necessarily have to agree with what the author says, as long as they say it with conviction. “Because my opinion is, more often than not, extremely negative I have a rule: I must always be honest,” she says. “I love what I love and hate what I hate, no compromise. I know not everyone is going to agree with me, but I’d rather be hard-hitting than a puff writer who blows with Meaghan Smith at the 2011 Junossmoke up people’s asses to get on their good side. I may not always lean with popular opinion, but you know it is always my opinion and not someone else’s.” Jes’ frank, fierce and fearless approach is part of what makes XOXO Jes so appealing, but she’s had her fair share of haters, too. “I love my hate mail. It keeps me real,” she says. “If you are going to dish it out you have to be able to take it, so I appreciate that not everyone agrees with me.” Some of these strong opinions can be found in blog posts like the letter to the girl sitting behind her at a Ke$ha/Rihanna concert, an in-depth analysis of why she hates Nickelback so no one would ever ask her again, or this completely reasonable request she Standex electronics reed switch made of Oprah.

Jes has no plans to write her last blog post soon, or any plans at all, really. In an ideal world “some rich enlightened person” would pay for her to blog full-time, but until then she’s fully enjoying what she’s doing. “Hopefully I’m around for awhile and don’t get burned out trying to keep up with the many jailing of Lindsay Lohan,” she says. “Maybe one day I will go big and get an XOXO Jes Facebook page. Or not, again…no strategy here.”


The Northern Star in Prince George

in Activism, British Columbia, Culture Blogger, humourist, News Media and Scholar


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The Northern Star Magazine, British Columbia, Alternative media print and online publication

Will Lewis, Northern Star Online writer, editor, publisher and daily bloggerWill Lewis is a loud voice, west of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. He’s an alternative media print publisher in Prince George, British Columbia, with a well trafficked website and blog. Because storytelling runs in his blood, he writes news, comedy and political satire. His mother was one of the first aboriginal women in all of North America to get a university degree, and he has the same pioneering spirit.

The Northern Star is best categorized as ‘alternative media’, and has one goal – to entertain its readers. Every edition is filled with news stories, folk tales and funny observations. Will, and his wife Cathie, believe their job is to make readers think, smile and feel better about themselves. The Northern Star blog is an effective content repository, where they showcase the best articles and jokes from their weekly publication. Anyone is welcome to respond with their comments. Will says, “We actually began blogging as an afterthought. We first created a printed magazine, developed a readership, and then created the blog to build upon that audience.”

Will and Cathie produce The Northern Star in Prince George, British Columbia, but it’s enjoyed around the world. Even the local political articles, Will's Thoughts on The Northern Star in Prince George British Columbiaespecially Will’s Thoughts, wherein he gets very opinionated about actions and decisions of politicians and government, is enjoyed world wide. Beyond that, there’s plenty of human interest pieces, like the story on Purina’s new TV commercials for dogs, and how Knokkers is played in Missouri. They profiled Leonard George Casley, the independent micro nation known as the Hutt River Principality in Australia, and closer to their home is a fascinating overview of Spotted Lake, a volcanic water body in southern BC, that weeps mineral rich mud in an unusual spotted pattern. Will follows his own passion, and publishes things that makes one think – he shares a growing conviction that ‘We Are E.T.’ (Extraterrestrials) with his readers, in pieces relating facts that challenge the standard belief system regarding the origin of mankind. But don’t misunderstand, The Northern Star is a family friendly publication, that fundamentally respects the diversity of our multicultural world.

The Northern Star, valuing differences, celebrating diversityThe Northern Star is an Aboriginal Owned and Operated Print and Online Publication

Because The Northern Star is physically circulated in print, available online, and directly mailed to thousands of email addresses, Will and Cathie can offer advertisers a variety of different options, different platforms and delivery perspectives. They have more than a dozen long term advertisers, and get good return from their ad network, which speaks volumes about their business acumen. According to Lewis, however, …the biggest obstacle we run into is that many businesses are reluctant to do business with an aboriginally owned and operated company. That’s a fascinating statement, because it makes his own writer’s quest for racial and religious tolerance even more profound.

Unfortunately, Will can’t publish all of his opinionated beliefs, because Cathie is the final filter who won’t allow some of it. When we asked him the worst thing that’s ever happened to him since publishing, he alluded to creative differences with Cathie.

Mel trucker stories truck driver british columbia blog

One of the best things to come from the rise of The Northern Star, is the discovery and promotion of Mel McConaghy, an original voice found in a retired truck driver, who started life as a dyslexic eighth grade dropout, and is now an internationally acclaimed writer. This long journey occurred in part, because of the exposure he receives from his own website, My Life Through A Broken Windshield, Trucker’s Tales From The Road Of Life, which is truncated and published as a weekly column in The Northern Star.

BC truck driver navigates a mountain creek with big tractor trailer

Some terrific examples of Will’s writing occur in Will’s Thoughts, like this favourite, wherein Will confesses to being a belief-o-holic. He writes,

Hi, my name is Will and I am a Belief-o-holic. Beliefs have always been my best friends. I used beliefs to feel better, to ease my pain, and to end my loneliness. Sometimes I believed in public, but most often, I believed alone. I’ve suffered horribly, and caused others to suffer, because of my addiction to beliefs. I put beliefs ahead of my family, friends and community. Beliefs made me do things that I am ashamed of, and almost destroyed my life.

More wisdom in Will’s Thoughts when he writes about the moral ambiguity of the word ‘okay’; he says, …any time that you hear someone say ‘that’s okay’, pay real close attention to how it’s being used.

And this little gem, ‘The Problem With Education’, is a delightful look at a dinner party, where the truth about teachers is revealed to a money grubbing career driven corporate CEO. It’s immensely enjoyable, and like the rest of The Northern Star, it shares a simple mandate to make people smile and give them hope.


Vancity Buzz in Vancouver BC

in British Columbia, NHL Hockey, Photography, Sports, Tourism and Vancouver

Vancity Buzz bannerThe consortium of creative thinkers that conspire to craft Vancity Buzz are as diverse as the blog.

Vancity Buzz formed on the 21st July, 2008.  That’s when three contributors first put their heads together to create the best local blog in Vancouver.  And they succeeded in crafting a fine portal, and one that guarantees readers a fine batch of local content, served fresh daily. The photo rich text shares ideas and comedy related to the City of Vancouver, and most recently the upcoming 2010 Winter Olympics; this blog is a digestion of Vancouver sports, politics and populism.

Coal Harbour on Vancity BuzzVancity Buzz is perhaps the first and best place to find obscure Vancouver restaurant reviews, music festival highlights, media meltdowns, and hip videos spiced with local politics, underground art and stories from and about their great city. Readers enjoy sports highlights from BC Lions and Vancouver Canucks, and local sports and recreation stories especially bicycling in Vancouver.

Originally billed as, “the best damn blog in Vancouver. Here you can expect to read on topics from our expert authors ranging from Sports, Culture, Entertainment, Development and any random spiel we feel like. One thing’s for certain, this page is going to be straight no chase!” there’s a heavy slant towards local and provincial politics. Think of this place as a premium online men’s magazine for Vancouver.

This is a men’s mag because of the images and style and general tone of voice; it’s definitely more guy-focused than girl-focused and a video of Megan Fox in the sidebar leaves no doubt. Discussions about Vancouver Canucks, homeless people, and hot models are always going to be more popular with guys.

VancouverismVancouverism
Here’s what makes the blog special – writers like Urban Dweller define something called ‘Vancouverism’. In the subtext it’s actually possible to read and enjoy their pride for Yaletown, Coal Harbour, North East False Creek and soon South East False Creek. The authors believe these are truly the communities of the future, and they are the byproducts of excellent city planning, mainly by a man they identify as Mr. Beasley, a visionary most famous for reshaping their beautiful city – they love him as they create a blog that celebrates Vancouverism.

Yet they are afraid of, and loath Surrey
The writers’ affection for metropolitan Vancouver contrasts their opinion of Surrey: “Upon entering it was obvious that Surrey doesn’t know what it wants to be, the city is so poorly planned, no doubt due to the rapid cul-de-sac infested development that took place over the years. I think I saw one cyclist, a few pan handlers on Scott Road, more suburban style strip mall in development and SUV’s galore. It felt like Prince George but with more people, not a good thing. As I approached Newton it was evident Mayor Watts has her work cut out. The urban decay in a suburban setting is truly horrendous. I pray I don’t ever have to go back. Oh and where are all the buses in Surrey? 400,000 people and I didn’t see a single fucking bus my whole time there. Egregious. If the future lives there we are in serious trouble…”

The blog boasts that approximately 80% of their readers live in BC’s lower mainland. They don’t shy away from politics. They are obvious social liberals, fiscal conservatives that despise all manner of taxation and any form of government control.

The Accolades
asshatsFreebase.com gave VCB five award nominations last year,
–         Dec 2008 Best Humour Site
–         Dec 2008 Best Site for Events
–         Dec 2008 Best Group Blog or Multi-Author Site
–         2008 Best Sports Site or Blog
–         2008 Best New Blog
But unless I’m mistaken, and perhaps we can read about it in the comments of this post (anyone?), I don’t think VCB won any prizes in any of the categories. It’s a fact that Urbanspoon Vancouver [a restaurant and review site; rates reviews from critics, food bloggers and friends] ranked VanCity Buzz at 41 out 100. But perhaps this is a start mark, the beginning of their journey.

Vancity Buzz – Tuesday July 27 2008
…Now I’m off to go throw pennies at the French hobos hanging outside the liquor store on Alberni. Hopefully they’ll get the message and hitch a ride back to “La belle Province”.

Most Contentious Posts:
Not surprisingly, VanCity Buzz has ruffled some feathers and the most contentious posts appear to be political and societal, based on the number of comments.  Its a fact Vancity Buzz defends pitbulls, and openly criticizes Vancouver’s approach to the homelessness problem, and makes public their disapproval of Surrey. These hot button issues have raised some eyebrows.

The Authors of the VanCity Buzz Spot
Now here’s where it gets a bit confusing. VanCity Buzz is himself an author, probably the principle brainchild of the blogspot. He has a good blog style and writes the meat and potatoes of the blog – usually the posts that most directly relate to the city.

Money J Skeets introduced himself in August 2008 in The Case of Matts Sundin and has held true to his promise of delivering sports gossip and musical goodies.  He also chronicles local street scenes and serves up late nite music in a weekly ritual – this writer is certainly very original with maximum style, and yet there are no pictures of him on the site. Money J Skeets is the 2nd most prolific contributor, but there doesn’t appear to be any pictures of this author, unless you count the shot of Nelly flashing his gold teeth?

Urban Dweller is outside the box and 100% original. He writes about the dark underbelly of the city and thinks in unusual patterns; he once detailed the physical element in poker.

Suburban Don lives in Richmond BC and writes about goings on in suburbia. He started strong and profiled Olympic athletes and some local businesses before gradually fading away.

Vancity Maverick – according to him, his writing is “focused on political matters from an analytical perspective, sometimes in a politically incorrect manner.”, but his pen has been silent for a spell.

VanGirl her real name Clo Harvey and she’s a very pretty freelance photographer from Australia that currently resides in Vancouver; she likes to shoot landscapes, cityscapes, people, pets, nightlife; self-taught photog, shoots digital and film, edits own work Clo’s online photo albums: http://cloimages.shutterfly.com/

InterVan-Buzz works in communications as a promoter / marketer / producer; “I am a young entrepreneur who has fallin in love with marketing. I believe it is a great tool… such a variety of ways to utilize it. Music & Fashion have become a big part of my life.”

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Net Chick in Vancouver

in British Columbia, Personal Blog, Photography, Tourism and Vancouver

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Tanya Marie Davis has been writing her thoughts online for over eleven years! That makes her the most experienced blogger, with the oldest domain yet profiled on this friendly index. The thirty something British Canadian lives alone in Vancouver, and plays a big part in the city’s social net. Her easy going manner, self deprecating sense of humour, detailed profile page, and straight forward contact info tells readers that she’s very comfortable with who she has become…

Net Chick pink hairNetChick, This Chick’s Life is the personal journal of a popular west coast socialite who uses her blog for the forces of good. There are no Google ads or tacky widgets anywhere in the sidebar, just a lipstick promotion over a blog roll bearing links to other Canadian pioneers, most of whom also live in Vancouver.

Tanya Davis blogs from and about that beautiful city, and often joins her friends, Miss 604, Raincoaster, Tris Hussy and others at live events that help make Vancouver the foremost social media crucible in Canada. Although much smaller than Toronto, this city’s bloggers connect in real life at parties, sporting events and most recently, at the opera.

This Chick’s Life is as unique as it is popular. A two sentence description in her sidebar reads, “…a thirty something girl living her dream in downtown Vancouver.’ But what is her dream exactly? Perhaps its the expression of her independence? To live alone after her divorce? In posts from autumn 2002 and the winter of 2003, which are the oldest posts available to readers, Tanya is slight on details and uses the word ‘boyfriend’ with defining the term. Later, readers will discover and come to cherish NetChick’s semi perpetual search for a mate. The theme runs through later posts too, and as Tanya grows older she gets more and more comfortable sharing details.

Similar to Carrie Bradshaw, (Sarah Jessica Parker’s character in Sex in the City)  this single girl details the shortcomings of so many would be suitors that attempt to solicit her affections. It’s a fascinating study of (for) men, especially those who craft corny first contact messages. The activity empowers female readers, and makes men a little anxious – lately Tanya has been reposting whole conversations, or rather, intact solicitations from strangers that have no idea who they’re talking to, or what league they’ve just stepped into…

Net Chick, Tanya DavisA social butterfly, NetChick has adopted, or rather, inherited an earlier link exchange ritual (from Michele, a landmark early blog) known as Weekend Meet and Greet. It’s a simple idea that works to convince a community of readers to leave a chorus of comments for everyone’s benefit. This type of online activity is the spit and polish that sophisticated blog pioneers put up to harness the passion of the next generation. NetChick’s meet and greet has just two rules:  participants must first say hello, and then visit the blog above their comment; in turn the next visitor greets you and visits your blog.  Irregardless of all extenuating factors, the exercise is good for at least one visit.

On March 1st 2009 Tanya used her blog to do some good for society when she wrote to Support the Canadian Freestyle Ski Team With Canada Post and encouraged her readers to CatchAir.ca

Tanya Davis seems like the quintessential early adopter, a hot girl geek that’s always been in style. She embraces new technology and uses it to elucidate random elements of her existence; NetChick Flickr photos show off her friends and family, you can find Tanya on Facebook, and or follow NetChick on Twitter.

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Crunchy Carpets in Vancouver

in Blogging, British Columbia, Mom Social, niche blogs, Personal Blog and Vancouver

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Kerry Sauriol started Crunchy Carpets early in 2007 while raising two young children in a house in Vancouver. Given the circumstances, Kerry was destined to give birth to a Mom Blog. Two years later, her digital toddler is slowly growing into a Mom Blog monster.

Kerry Sauriol with Patrick at BlogHerUnless you’ve got kids, you may not understand the appeal of Parenting Blogs. It’s the premier shared experience for women, pregnant or otherwise. This genre has become increasingly popular as there are always plenty of readers, plenty of writers, and lots of good stories. Styled as a friendly conversation, Mom Blogs are usually short reviews or some relevant life observation followed by a long list of very opinionated comments.

Before blogging, Kerry spent time on parenting discussion forums. “I loved making friends and sharing news and views and generally being opinionated on whatever struck my fancy,” she explains. “With a blog…well, that is an ENTIRE site to warble on about what I think about things.”

Kerry SauriolBecause of the sheer numbers, it can be discouraging for some writers to carve their own niche and create an individual voice. Crunchy Carpets appeals to everyone in the niche because it’s a little different. While insisting that her blog is not a “parenting blog”, Kerry says she doesn’t give useful tips to parents. Building tips and recommendations, links to PVC trim suppliers for people remodeling their bathrooms. Ever since she started, she has offered plenty of insights into her family life, and always shares her thoughts on life from her perspective as Mom. She tells her readers the most personal things you can imagine – like how she is currently suffering from a painful hemorrhoid! She confesses her maternal anxieties over her kids’ schooling, family health issues, and she constantly alludes to her own moral, physical and spiritual shortcomings. Her simple prose is likable and compelling; it compels readers to comment on her posts. Even when they disagree with what she writes their admiration and respect for Kerry is obvious in courteous diction.

West Coast WomenStay at home Moms often feel lonely, and so Kerry is comforted by the sense of community and friendship that she’s discovered online. The ability to share advice and commiserate with other like-minded people has become Kerry’s favourite part of Crunchy Carpets. “When I lost my son last December, at 26 weeks along in my pregnancy, the out pouring of support that I received from readers was incredible. It was such a help to me during a truly horrendous and dark time” she recounts.

Reading Kerry’s posts is like chatting with a friend over a cup of coffee. An entry like More Bad Mothering gives readers her own straight-up views and lists her pet peeves in a sauce of motherhood anxieties. Clash O’ the Momma Bears is a well-written heartfelt post with an emotional trigger. And finally here is one of Kerry’s first posts, where she explains what it really means to have carpets with a crunch.

Aside from Crunchy Carpets, Kerry also controls another portal called Wet Coast Women that started as a community for female bloggers and has become enormously popular. The content on this portal is strictly non-parental. And also Kerry’s Twitter account gives her “instant access to new and interesting blogs and stories”. Blogging connects Kerry Sauriol to ‘mom friends’ all over North America. And you? Are you her next friend?

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The Conveyor Belt in Vancouver

in British Columbia, Fashion Blogger and Vancouver

The Conveyor Belt
Terri Potratz started her blog back in September 2007 to post portfolio pictures online and attract potential employers. After seeing the surprising daily traffic stats, she decided to continue and rebrand the site as her own blog. Eight months later, she’s glad she did.

The Conveyor Belt is not a personal web log. It’s fashion business management consulting in so much as its a fusion of art, fashion and beauty tips from a refreshingly down-to-earth West Coast female perspective. Terri keeps it Canadian by awarding kudos to prominent designers and keeping her nationwide audience informed with unique and intelligent insights on popular trends.

Terri PotratzWhile Terri Potratz is the founder and editor-in-chief of the site, her team of talents keeps it fresh. Carleen McLeod is the Beauty Editor, and she’s an experienced make-up artist that provides natural skin care and how to find and use organic cosmetics and uber healthy styling tips for the readers; Pariya Kaligi is a Contributing Writer with a day job as a public relations consultant; Kris Krug is a well known photographer. All together they’re the driving force behind this powerful West Coast fashion blog.

As an informative reader-driven site, The Converyor Belt runs through a wide variety of interesting subjects. This is the place to find make-up advice, and thrift store strategies, event coverage and designer/artist profiles. Terri hopes her readers “laugh, learn something new, [are] inspired, and leave with a positive experience or impression”.

Terri Potratz feeds off her readers. Like most bloggers she gets a real kick out of reading the comments. She tells me that when she writes for a print publication, she has no idea who is reading her work, or what they are thinking about her ideas… But with The Conveyor Belt, she can track readership and collect remarks and use these metrics to improve her own communicative abilities. Blogging has also opened doors. She’s meeting more people, networking, and attending more exclusive events that have relevance to her readership.

larry - clothing labelTerri’s clothing line, “larry.” uses all natural, local products for its scarves and shawls. Each item is hand-knit by Terri herself, using alpaca and sheep’s wool. And while she will mention “larry.” in her blog from time to time, she likes to keep them as separate entities. The Conveyor Belt is not a promotional blog for her entrepreneurial endeavors.

Here’s a wonderful example of Terri’s work, titled Vancouver Thrift Store Scores. This is shopping advice with a personal voice that makes readers feel like they’re listening to a close friend. And if you read The Conveyor Belt everyday, Terri Potratz will probably become a close friend.


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