Archive for the 'Personal Blog' 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.”



Nora Camps, Business Storyteller in Toronto

in Blogging, Culture Blogger, farm blog, food blog, gardening, Ontario, Painter, Personal Blog, Toronto and visual arts

business storyteller, Nora Camps blog, Strategy and Design, web marketingbusiness storyteller, Nora Camps blog, Strategy and Design, web marketingNora Camps is a graphic designer, web marketing strategist and fine arts painter living and working in Toronto, Ontario. She is one of the two principals of Duo Strategy and Design, a cost effective business storytelling company with a green mandate; they’re bent on changing the world one project at a time. Nora’s blog is filled with insights into the business of being an artist and her struggle to make change and remedy societal malaise through art and interaction.

Duo Strategy and Design Blog is chock full of rare and precious wisdom from a professional artist that runs a marketing company for A list clients. She helps the greenest institutions in Canada demonstrate their innovations and environmentalism with amazing print publications and high concept websites. Her portfolio of business stories inspires other artists and imbues her own blog with status and authority.

Her diction and prose are easy to read, and her text is emotionfull; each blog post is a story. In just about every dispatch the reader can glimpse Nora’s humanity, especially when she writes about life in Toronto, or her escapes to the country. She writes, I love Toronto, grit and all. When I’m not in the city I can be found in the country and sometimes join Terry, in his Skybolt, to fly over the countryside.

Imagineering is a word created by Disney, but co-opted by Nora Camps. Her vision embraces any use of imaginative narrative to realize, create, or catalyze in real life the potentials we are imagining. It often involves complete stories, in any form. But it can also involve one or more story elements — metaphors, images, themes, perspectives, conflicts, problems, questions, goals, knowledge, possibilities, and imagined characters, situations, plots, events, resolutions, dialogue, etc.

Imagineers use these story elements consciously to inspire and guide people to reshape their consciousness, their lives, and their social and physical circumstances.

Nora has a unique storytelling process that she executes for corporations which I want to share here,

Step 1 – Buy-in, decide who will sit at the table. Listen and learn stories.

Step 2 – Draft the story

Step 3 – Diction – refine the language, syntax, tone and perspective.

Step 4 – Test the story tell the story, develop launch plan, creative brief, speaking notes, and syntax.

Step 5 – Map the story, grow the story, share the Final Brand Story as many ways as possible

Nora laughs at something opening night of Sarayu gallery exhibit, paintingsOn being a blogger, Nora writes, I have discovered that in order to move forward through life, as opposed to simply standing still, I must live consciously. Writing about my adventures of thought and deed seem to propel me forward and the connections have produced very cool new products, client projects and paintings.

Nora tells me that she gets a lot of feedback on her blog posts. People email her and ask questions because they are looking for experts on some subject. Some folks respond to blog posts in comments to say that her thoughts have helped them or encouraged them to write more, to blog, to journal, or to question something.Nora writes, To me, questioning why something is happening is important to growth. For business, zeroing in on their biggest obstacles produces the fastest wins – that is asking: This is our biggest problem – why is it happening? All my stories transcend life, business, and art.

A conversation is always better. business storytellingNora doesn’t get involved in online debates, or flame wars. She doesn’t even respond to comments that are filled with obvious negativity. She will publish all comments however, unless they are profane or spam, but she won’t get into bickering matches with her readers, She writes, Blogging must never be bashing. Sometimes a comment about local politics takes on a life of it’s own. Time is short. I do not wish to waste my time ruminating on the minutia. Online is not the place for a debate. A conversation is always better.

Probably the best thing that Nora ever did for society with her blog was Mugs With Frames – Portrait of a City. The project was done to demonstrate that the people of Toronto are friendly. She blogged about this ambitions first and asked for stories. “Thank you to everyone who shares their opinion with me.” Nora writes, “I treasure your opinions”.

Here is a brief look at Nora’s work as a fine arts painter,

Readers can follow Nora on Twitter @NoraCamps and they can see all her artwork on NoraCamps.com

Sarayu is a river in India

SARAYU is the name of a river in India. It is the name of a spirit, and sometimes it’s the name for wind that catches you by surprise. Women are comfort givers, they are life and energy givers and in their actions they channel the spirit of the creator. They are representative of the holy spirit, though not necessarily as chronicled in the scriptures, but more specifically they are all that is warm, loving, gentle, kind and refreshing – SARAYU is every woman in every circumstance all over the world

With an eye on the future, Nora hopes to make her blog more perfect by making it a little less cerebral, and even easier to read and digest. She takes a camera with her everywhere now, to best capture one-of-kind original pictures that are life’s fleeting moments. Nora wants her blog to be the entry point for people learning about her web storytelling company. In her words, “DUO does really cool projects – because of who we are and how we learn and live and synthesize. It’s a continuous circle. The blog is an important and obvious contributor to the process.”


Michael Nus, Holy Trinity of Happiness

in Personal Blog, Scholar, SEO, Start-Ups, Toronto and Web Designer

blog banner, Michael Nus

Michael Nus in a grey suitMichael Nus is a bearded blogger with a big heart. Known as the gentleman blogger, his informative posts are chock full of philosophical meaning, commentary about staying classy, and SEO and Social Media advice. More than anyone else, Michael includes his friends and colleagues in his posts. He references the work of his contemporaries when recounting a previous night’s event or writing about the digital space. Familiarly referred to as “Nus” he blogs his crew’s collective memories of happenings in Toronto while always preserving a Holy Trinity of Happiness in his own life.

MICHAEL NUS, Holy Trinity of Happiness is all about keeping life in balance between three fundamentally different but important components – Love, Sustenance, and Expression/Creativity. (Please click the diagram below, it expands.) Social media marketers, PR professionals, and web marketing consultants that live by their wits, and work all hours of the day, could benefit from this handy life balance reference guide. Make no mistake Michael’s blog is about friends, marketing and tech events and group moments, but occasionally, now and then he’ll discuss how to enjoy life, and reference the Trinity chart below.

Michael Nus - Holy Trinity of HappinessA digital strategist, PR innovator, and experienced SEO/Web marketer, Michael Nus has been involved in social media since it was called “web 2.0.” Alumnus of the Columbia University Institute for Tele-Information, Michael co-edited a book about digital and physical distribution at the enterprise level by one of the world’s top experts on the subject. He has taken his journalism and tech background into the blogging world and the social web.

Michael has always been involved in social media marketing, but in his own words he says, “…it wasn’t until I met Mark Evans and Casie Stewart that I considered making personal blogging a habit to sharpen my skills in social media, marketing, SEO, PR, and coding even further. The notion was that anything I made that was my own I would naturally treat with care, so why not make my own blog?” Before that, here in Canada, he also worked for the BC Ministry of Education doing policy and data analysis and working on making information available to stakeholders across the province on the government’s digital entities. Projects like these furthered his nuanced education in marketing and strategy and he learned to be a proficient communicator in this space.

Michael Nus on Yonge St says 'Im not usually this creepy'. Michael finally pulled the trigger on starting his own blog after a cancer scare. He was online a lot back then, writing blogs for clients, and he decided that he wanted to share his own experiences with people. His approach is not to just report to his readers, but to bring them along with him through his realizations on his journey. Also, Michael doesn’t patronize people in his writing. He wants people to feel welcome to share his experiences. He expects folks to read his blog then interact with him on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr and converse through comments.

Not surprisingly, the film Almost Famous is his favourite movie. He used to interview major musicians and he loved to create a friendly bond with them as the Music Editor for the Young People’s Press and various other music and entertainment publications. The plot of Almost Famous rang true to his own experiences in that part of his life. His favourite journalists are Lester Bangs, and Alan Cross. Remember Michael used to interview musicians, which is probably why he relates to both of these writers. His favourite book is ‘Still Life with Woodpecker’ by Tom Robbins. His favourite author is Hunter S Thompson.


Michael Nus - on Yonge St

Michael Nus shopping for vegetables for foodie blogToday he lives his life right out in the open for everyone to see and comment on. He’s definitely worth following as @MichaelNus on Twitter. People are going to be writing about him a lot more this summer due to a bold mobile web innovation that he’s debuting with his partner Chris Booker in June at Microsoft’s “Code your Art Out” competition as his first major entrepreneurial venture.

An active practitioner of strategic thought and what it means to the digital space, Michael optimizes value for the client.

Michael is organized and methodical, patient in sharing learnings in mentorship relationships teaching others to see what he sees. Extremely engaged in the digital community, he is currently establishing a panel of experts to create a universal definition of what a digital strategist does, how they do it and what their accountabilities are.

Michael’s dedication to the digital community continually grows high-level strategic thinking at both the micro and macro level by developing and executing programming. He’s also a capable speaker and has presented at Make Web Not War, Schulich School of Business, USguys, Social Media Week and many more. Michael is considered one of Toronto’s top 150 Twitter influencers, was the official blogger for Stella Artois during the TIFF, and has been featured in Rannie Turingan’s (@Photojunkie) 140characters.ca collection.

Michael Nus, 140 Characters event photography by Rannie Turrigan

Michael Nus’s own mixed blood comes from a rather exotic cultural background. His mom was born to Italian parents and taught him the value of independence. His father was a humble Hungarian and he inspired Michael to be an entrepreneur and do great things with his life before passing away in 2005. He feels like he’s on the path to greatness now, and that journey started with his father.

Michael majored in political science with a minor in criminology at the University of Victoria, and was creating web content as early as 2000 when he worked as Online News Editor for Metroland News Group during his studies at Seneca College in their Computer Technology program. Back then it wasn’t called blogging, rather journalists would submit their pieces and their content was subject to the pen of editors like Michael before being published online and in print.

Michael Nus on bass guitarWhile at Metroland, Michael encouraged writers to alternate between hard news style reporting and first person “Gonzo” journalism with a healthy dose of feedback from readers. This was something of a foreshadow before blogging appeared on the scene to usher in a new age of journalism where readers are just as involved in the news as the writer. When he’s not blogging or helping clients and friends with their SEO or digital strategy, Michael likes to relive his days as a rock singer in a touring band by putting paper to pen. He’s a lyricist/songwriter, karaoke junkie and a closet chef. You can search his blog for his foody forays into the culinary arts for bachelors in his NusGourmet section.

Torontoites will sometimes catch glimpses of Michael around town whether it be appearing on stage (Joey DeVilla’s blog) playing the electric guitar alongside Raymi the Minx on drums and Sean Ward on keyboards and vocals or co-organizing events like Tweetgasm, Star Wars Day or Movember fundraisers. Last fall he worked with Sean Moffitt on successfully executing Movember’s Toronto’s digital fundraising campaign in which played a part in helping Prostate Cancer Canada raise $20M for their cause! He plans to do it again this year and looks forward to the fun.

Michael Nus on Queen St W with mirrored sunglasses“Michael writes that the best thing about his blog is that it gives him a reason to be somewhere, to be expressive and make great memories at special events or even when casually lounging with friends. The greatest reward, above all else, according to him,  is when a reader tells him how much a post inspired them to do something positive. It’s for that reason that he strives to write quality content for his readers without exception.

Relatively new to Toronto and this city’s populated event blogger scene, Michael was quick to make friends. His frequent blogging, playful and curious nature, entrepreneurial spirit, and respect for his peers and readers has earned many thousands of tweets, retweets, trackbacks and other digital accolades. He makes a point of honouring his commitments and keeping his word. He muses that, “if people can’t count on you, how can you count on yourself? If you only do what’s good for you, you wouldn’t know what’s good for you.”

Stay tuned for a relaunch of MichaelNus.com and for the unveiling of his startup in June!

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Canucklehead in London Ontario

in Canadian pop culture, humourist, Ontario and Personal Blog

Canucklehead Blog banner

Lincoln McCardle is a married father-of-two (awesome boys) who spends his days working full-time maintaining the VoIP network for one of Canada’s largest telecommunications providers, but who finds time to attend the University of Western Ontario in the evenings to complete his BA in English. On weekends, and when everyone else is asleep, Lincoln putters away as a humourist on a very unique web portal. There are two types of people out there, those who love Canucklehead straight away, and those who take a while.

Canucklehead blog buttonCanucklehead is the blog most central to the life of Lincoln McCardle, a working class guy who addresses all Canadians from the living room computer in his London Ontario home. The humour filled portal has a navigation bar that’s divided into seven categories, and all with names that begin with the letter ‘L”. They are Look, Laugh, Life, Love, Lists, Listen, and Luck and this of course is every Librarian’s nightmare, because it is quite impossible for readers to know what’s stored where, and so they have to explore the site and have the Canucklehead experience for themselves.

The first stop is Look, which indexes Lincoln’s favourite web photos of course, and Laugh is his collection of jokes and funny stories. Life is where he keeps his blog – this is the section most frequently updated. Love is a storehouse of assorted family memories. Lists is where you read about a hierarchy of Top Canadians, and Lincoln’s favourite Canadian city names. Listen is where you will find audio and even video clips, including Lincoln’s Torch Run Dec 22 2009 through Paris Ontario.  And Luck is a long list of local contests and charity raffles and things involving an element of chance. So it all makes perfect sense in a knucklehead kind of way.

Lincoln McCardle of Canucklehead, a blog in London Ontario CanadaLincoln was born and raised in London Ontario, and has spent his entire life in that city, save six years in downtown Toronto. The megacity is an awesome place for a young couple to meet and fall in love, but Lincoln didn’t want to have a family or career there, and so after the birth of his first son, the family returned back to his hometown. Who are the people Lincoln loves most? After his family, he treasures Homer Simpson, Haruki Murakami & Conan O’Brien. Who does he hate? How about Glen Beck, Justin Bieber & the Montreal Canadiens.

Lincoln isn’t trying to get rich with his blog, but there are some text link ads to poker sites now, and some affiliate marketing in the sidebars.

I hate sandcastles canucklehead

McCardle is convinced he’ll never be truly wealthy, but he’s content that he ‘leads a comfortable life by most people’s definition of the word, although very little of that is due blogging‘.  While excited about how popular his website has become, it will always just be just a favourite hobby, and not a vocation. For Lincoln, the blog is something to do while the rest of the house is sleeping. His web smorgasbord of assorted passions is created for people like him, and those who want to be more like him.  He writes, …it covers its own expenses, with a little left over for beer, Lego and a growing collection of Apple iGadgets.

Lincoln McCardle believes that all Canadians should receive one case of beer without taxes at the Beer Store on the Friday immediately preceding long weekend holidays. He writes about the necessity of implementing a Canucklehead Case Day.

Lincoln McCardle on a rope swing, Canucklehead

Lincoln admits he has led a charmed life – and he’s forever thankful to his family, friends and well-wishers who constantly provide support and encouragement.

There are also a lot of bloggers, too numerous to list, that Lincoln offers a heart-felt thanks for their advice and encouragement in those early years while he struggled away learning and blogging at the same time.

Because of his kids and his active disposition toward loving all people, Lincoln is an active community member, whether it’s being team captain for the Walk for Kids Help Phone, or as member of London’s local Movember committee @MovemberLondon. Lincoln has also recently decided to run for a position on CIRA’s Board of Directors; have a look at Lincoln’s nominee statement on the CIRA website.  CIRA is the organization that governs .ca domain names, and Lincoln now runs a few .ca websites. He’d like to be part of the establishment. Another one of his projects is a site for merchandising text friendly gloves (the index fingers are somehow detachable to allow easier texting with mobile devices) called Twittens. Its a brilliant idea and we wish him luck. Above all else one thing is certain, Lincoln likes to keep busy!

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Lauren O’Nizzle in London Ontario

in Blogging, Canadian pop culture, Culture Blogger, niche blogs, Ontario and Personal Blog

Lauren OutLoud blog is home of Lauren ONizzleLauren O’Neil, aka Lauren O’Nizzle is a 24 year old journalism student at the University of Western Ontario. She’s working on her master’s degree, but she’s already the most sophisticated, web tech-savvy pop culture princess we’ve ever encountered.  This girl makes media, and in less than two years she has become an outstanding example of a new type of entertainer, a socially brilliant one girl band on a noble quest to “spew random hilarity” all over the internet.

LaurenOutLoud is the website that hosts her entire menu which includes Lauren O’Neil web journalism portfolio. In addition to this formal magazine like portal, Lauren O’Nizzle’s content is distributed across numerous social mediums including, her LaurenOutLoud blog which is complimented by her twitter page @LaurenONizzle her LaurenONeal Delicious bookmarks account, her Nizzle .Posterous email blog platform, and of course her Lauren ONizzle on YouTube account.

This isn’t your typical marketing student blog, or any form of high brow intellectual content, although her posts are smarter than you might expect from a 24yr old person; the largest search terms in her blog’s tag cloud are ‘funny, muchmusic, TV, youtube’ in that order, and these are followed by ‘jschool, internship, cute’ and ‘dating’.

lauren ONizzle looks shy sad quiet fragile and its an illusion

Lauren O’Nizzle is very creative, and a little nerdy in how she stretches ideas and goes the distance for her followers. She’s been know to scan and post original drawings, and apply advanced photo shop skills to borrowed images. Also impressive is her ability to infuse comedy into her video interviews.

The name O’Nizzle came about organically as a nickname her friends applied several years ago. When it came time to create her Facebook account etc, she decided to go with that handle to protect her future employers from seeing any scandalous photos that may or may not appear in that space. Now, most friends don’t even call her Lauren anymore, to them she is simply “Nizzle.”

When an digital artist named Cameron Stewart cartooned her, she remarked on how the picture was ‘the sickest thing she’s ever seen’,  and she used it on her menu page layout.  That menu is so compelling. This young journalism student already embodies the future of electronic news media and entertainment. She is a great example of how people will soon make media for other people.

lauren ONizzle in the bathrrom with a toothbrush and phone cameraBorn in Chatham Ontario, Lauren moved to Windsor for her undergraduate degree, and now she lives in London.  As a journalism student, her blog is a place where she doesn’t have to worry about journalistic integrity and reporting on hard news. On her blog, she can have the freedom to take sides and write about what ever she desires even if it’s about creepy old naked ladies.

In a way, Lauren began blogging when she was only twelve years old, after she discovered Angelfire.  In that strange space she created a diary web page called “Spaz Central.” She filled this page with animated gifs and pictures of her awkward, frizzy-haired adolescent girls posing like the young models in Seventeen magazine (pictures that had been taken with a disposable camera and scanned at the library, of course).

As a self-proclaimed soul mate of Tina Fey, Conan O’Brien and Lisa Simpson, Lauren colours her stories funny and smart.

lauren onizzle on the radio

Lauren loves to multitask and is always on the go; she’s a little obsessed with always creating content. When she isn’t being viral, she likes watching comedy TV shows, doing yoga, reading fashion magazines, dancing and eating sugar cereals.  She’s an active blog reader and prolific commenter.  And Lauren is not at all shy about having her picture taken, and her face can be seen mugging all over her media empire. Her openness gives followers a big window into the life of a young blond journalism school student in Canada.

Lauren ONizzle AXE contest promotion banner

She also defines herself as being the opposite of Sarah Palin, Jay Leno and Bart Simpson.

Recently, Lauren was named one of the 10 finalists in the in AXE Canada’s Ridiculously, Ridiculously Good Summer Gig Competition. Voting for the Axe Summer Gig ends on March 31st, which ironically is the very day in which her profile here on Canada Blog Friends was posted.

“Success for me is making people laugh. Every time I get an email from somebody telling me that something I’ve posted has made their day or cheered them up, I’ve succeeded. I don’t do this for the money or the perks or the mad groupie hoes. I do it for the lulz, plain and simple.”

lauren Onizzle cartoon by her friend, i cant remember his name

“I saw an episode of Ghost Writer when I was 9, where ghostwriter goes into a computer modem and fights a hacker. I thought that this was the coolest thing ever so I begged my parents for a modem until they finally got me one.”

Lauren’s considers her blog to have no true central theme. Her posts run the gamut. Funny things, weird things, pop culture, web culture, nerdities, schadenfreude and all things karma related and esp things that she observes while shopping. Half the time, she says it’s just brain vomit. Whatever is on the top of her mind at any given time is effortless transmutated into social capital. Lauren’s followers tend to be people who share her wacky sense of humour and have similar interests to her.

For Lauren (Nizzle) O’Neil, blogging is how she brings her humour, lifestyle, hobbies and career aspirations to one place so she can properly share them with the rest of the world.

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Rebellious Arab Girl in London, Ontario

in Activism, Blogging, niche blogs, Ontario and Personal Blog

Mona, profile picture, Rebellious Arab GirlMona is the living manifestation of her rebellious blog; she’s a strong female personality in the Arab world, and that’s rare.  Although core values are slowly changing, Middle Eastern culture still seems to discourage female participation; Mona’s blog is rebellious, because it exists.

Rebellious Arab Girl is emotional and writes her caustic journal to promote change. It’s a complaints blog from a girl who began blogging because she had built up a lot of anger toward “certain issues with the mentality of certain people within my culture. My message was to tell the world that I am just an ordinary girl who happened to come from a very conservative culture.

Mona will be 29 years old in December. She started blogging on her 25th birthday because that’s when she became a rebel and really felt alienated from familial and cultural expectations. Apparently being a 25year old unmarried Arab girl is not an easy existence, and the blog was an outlet for Mona’s feelings. This girl is single and complicated, and these realities give her blog colour and purpose.  She’s not using her domain to look for love, or at least not overtly, but rather to complain about not finding love, and to comment on the structure, traditions and expectations of Muslim Canadians.  She writes, “I didn’t want to fall into the following category: if you are 25 and not married, then you have to or else you are screwed for life! I rather find myself first and know what I want from life, then feel committed to someone who is not willing to accept my ideologies and beliefs. Hence, my blog is a very big part of me, and many men don’t accept it. So, it is either the blog or them, and obviously I chose the former!”

Mona's amazing digital artComputer Science grad from the University of Western Ontario, Mona now works as a computer programmer in London. “I love my profession since I create web applications that so many professionals out there can make use of. No more using a pen and paper, and everything is just a click away and processed in the background. I love it. I make life simple for so many people with my skills.” Earlier in 2009 Mona was unemployed, and she blogged about job hunting and complained about the process. In that time however she created some terrific digital art. Now that she has a job, I’m sure readers hope she finds time to continue creating her masterpieces.

Mona likes London’s diversity, “It is a very family oriented city with a very diverse population. Moreover, I believe the diversity is the main reason why London is a very unique city.”

Rebellious Arab Girl likes to speak out about issues within her culture that won’t work if you “live in this side of the world”.  She really believes people should keep their core values but try to change the way they perceive life and interact with the rest of the society around them. When she heard about Barack Obama winning the Nobel Peace Prize for his campaign platform she created and published one of her own:

Rebel Arab Girl for change!Vote for the Rebellious Arab Girl today!

1. She promises you peace in the middle east!
2. She promises you democracy in each Arab country with 4 – 6 year election time frames with citizens voting new leaderships!
3. She promises you a separation between religion and the state!
4. She promises you no more visa requirements for Arabs to visit other Arab countries!
5. She promises you Palestine to return to its rightful owners!
6. She promises you government funding for each Arab University to allow and contribute their scientific research to the world!
7. She promises you equality in the work force between the sexes!

Also along these lines, in June 2009 Mona wrote I Think its Time for Change about which she confides, “This is one of my favorite posts actually, because I created promotional fun banners because I love to create digital art. Also, I wrote this post because I always wondered when will there ever be a female leader of the Arab World?”

On Blogging & Writing
“I became a better writer over time since I exercise it almost daily though my blog. Also, last year, I decided for fun to take a couple of advanced writing courses at the University to enhance my writing skills for online publications. I wanted my writing to be convincing since I do enjoy it more than a hobby.”

Surprises?
“My biggest surprise is the size of the audience I have been receiving. It is quite extraordinary to be just another girl with hardly anyone to listen to in real life, to having such numerous amounts of readers who love you for being you, and are willing to take time out of their day to read what you have to say and comment. It is a great indescribable feeling having a blog.”

Two more of Mona’s favourite posts include, The Positives Outweigh the Negatives, of which she says “I really like this post because I wanted to tell the world that Arabs are great positive people, because they have great family values that distinguish them from other cultures.” And another on the subject of Arabs Marrying Non-Arabs, about which she writes, “I wrote this post because I receive several emails a day from people asking me if it is right or wrong for Arabs to marry non-Arabs. So I tried to explain my point of view, and I stirred a very long debate regarding this issue.

Rebellious Arab Girl in her own words,“I don’t believe my site is targeted only to the Muslim community or even to the Arab community. My site is targeted to everyone who is willing to read the life of just another girl who happens to be an Arab and Muslim. I wanted people to realize that I am no different than them.”


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Life in Cowtown in Calgary

in Alberta, food blog, gardening and Personal Blog

Life in Cowtown banner

Tatina Kharitonova of Life in CowtownTatiana Kharitonova uses both sides of her brain. The 29 year old accountant crunches numbers in downtown Calgary from 9 to 5, but after work and on weekends she follows her heart and explores a ‘million mini passions’ which she writes about on her blog.

Life in Cowtown was originally created to document Tatiana’s first ‘cold climate garden’, and just in case anyone cared to duplicate her experiments she decided to keep an online journal that she could also reference later. An early post shows her backyard in the winter before the garden occurs and describes the conflict that occurs inside her own brain – Tatiana is torn between her desire to be outdoors, and her general fear and contempt for insects, esp spiders and stinging bees.

Stable, secure and contemplative, Tatiana has been locked up in a good relationship with “a great guy” for eight years. She loves to read books and digests about four per week. She’s also a champion of free printable coupons and occasionally  posts offers right on her blog.

pepper plantSkilled in writing unbiased reviews, it’s not unusual to find Tatiana combining food and travel in the same post. She reviews cafes, shopping malls and Calgary Hotels and her journal entries are sometime punctuated with pictures of half eaten sandwiches and empty soup bowls. Unpredictable, she’s best categorized as an abstract gardening and pets blogger.

“I’m a generalist” she exclaims, ‘I like to learn a reasonably shallow amount on a variety of topics, and here anything goes – from ‘quantum physics for dummies’ to ‘how to make penicillin at home’. For example, Tatiana is an amateur mycologist and goes foraging for mushrooms in Alberta every year. I hope she writes a post on that subject this summer, and perhaps someday she will offer up a homemade mushroom hunting map to her readers.

Miss Kharitonova shoots all her own photos, and counts photography among her many interests.  Some great posts include her review of Millarville, which is typical straightforward account of her journey to Southern Alberta’s largest outdoor farmers’ market. That destination relates to her cold climate gardening objectives. Here’s a fascinating look at wall systems and how she replants peppers and takes her own advice, for once.

She loves her cats, especially Tweak, seen here.
Tweak the cat
Tatiana’s journal is not political. She doesn’t write to offend anybody, or propose radical change or protest society. But she did relate to me her frustration with the city of Calgary. What other city builds overpasses and sticks six sets of lights on them? Or purposely staggers their red lights so that you catch each one when driving?

In closing, Tatiana relates, “I do have a pretty dark side, but it doesn’t come out on the blog for several reasons. First, the nature of this blog doesn’t really encourage it – it’s hard to write about gardening and cats then switch to something nihilistic. I may have to get a second blog to express that side of me, but when I think about it, life is hard enough for many people, so having something to laugh at is more important than dragging oneself down.”

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Holy Mackerel in Ottawa

in Mom Social, Ontario and Personal Blog

Mary Moore is a mom blogger in Ottawa who tells honest stories and gets points for being so candid. The woman just started out on the web last year, but her skill is obvious, and so is her dedication. Her latest passion is photography, and she shoots crisp digital images with her Canon EOS Rebel Xsi. Unlike other Ottawa citizens, Mary is not political; “It’s a waste of time”, she writes, “I’d rather spend my days smelling the fresh air and watching my kids enjoy life”

Holy Mackerel, Mary Moore in OttawaHoly Mackerel is a random gathering of anecdotes and daily inspirations. It’s a blog about homemaking from a loving housewife who calls her husband ‘Mr. Handsome’. She details her life with her two kids, their dog Gryphon, her quilting, old movies and television shows, Octamom, and sadly, cancer treatments.

When she wrote about a tornado that touched down in Ottawa last month, I bookmarked her blog because it was pure citizen journalism. A little while later, I went back and read more. When I found the post she wrote about the last month of her Dad’s life, she made me cry. The piece is filled with precious little details and perfectly painted with her own sadness. It’s how a blog should be, filled with reliable data and insights and observations mixed with the author’s opinions and emotions. I’ve never met Mary, but after reading her blog I feel like I’ve known her all my Mom Blog buttonlife.

What’s not so perfect is her blogspot template choice (personally, I’ve never liked white text on black), and there are so many sidebar widgets that some pages don’t load properly because of javascript conflicts. But let’s remember that Mary is still finding the balance between her content and all the other facets of social media available to Mom bloggers. There are lots of attractions out there and lots of distractions too.

Mary Moore face1Mary Moore was born and raised in Ottawa and got her start in journalism in high school working on the school newspapers. She was first employed as a journalist in Wetaskiwin Alberta, on a small weekly newspaper where she worked for two years as a reporter covering crime and local politics. Back in Ontario she landed a spot at the daily paper in Cornwall as a crime reporter and there covered a few national murder stories and found it to be “very exciting stuff”. That’s where Mary met Mr Handsome and right around the same time she landed her dream job as the new managing editor for Feliciter, the national magazine of the Canadian Library Association, where she worked for twelve years.

Today, Mary is a real estate agent in Ottawa. She’s thinking about setting up a photography business and has just begun to realize her blog’s potential as a marketing tool for that ambition. “My best friend introduced the whole world of blogging to me, and told me I needed to do this.Rockets So, after some humming and hawing, I just went for it, and now it’s a big part of my life, to my family’s consternation. As my husband puts it, there’s an umbilical cord connecting me to my laptop.”

Mary Moore admits that she’s “obsessed with getting old” and her posts sometimes evidence some contempt for the young. But for the most part her work is positive, especially when she shares invasive medical procedures with her readers to mitigate the psychological affects of these treatments in her own brain.  Mary is passionate about volunteering, designer swimwear, especially for kids with cancer and seniors.

Unlike so many other Moms who set out to chronicle one or another facets of their existence, Mary didn’t have a goal when she began blogging; “I found that just being able to write again, and actually have someone (anyone!) read it was an amazing feeling. I would love to be a successful, well-known blogger/writer, and maybe someday I will be, but right now, just writing and using my creative side is enough for me.”

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