leibsterawardThis is a long overdue thank you to Cristen of Food & Swine for nominating me for the Liebster Award, a virtual way for bloggers to recognize other bloggers. According to the official rules, any blog with under 1,000 followers or subscribers is eligible for the Liebster.

Nominating blogs for the Liebster Award is essentially like playing tag. Bloggers can choose to pass it on if they wish, but they are certainly not obligated to participate.

I’ve connected with Cristen more recently through Iowa blogging networks (she wrote about the Bauder’s Pharmacy Peppermint Bar at the Iowa State Fair in my post compiling Iowa bloggers favorite hometown foods). As a new Iowan, I’ve appreciated her warmth and friendliness and enjoy following her blog in which she shares about her family, raising hogs, and cooking adventures. This week, I was thrilled to learn she is an award winning bread baker, having won multiple blue ribbons at the Iowa State Fair.

Like Minnesota and North Dakota, I’ve thankful to have found a hospitable group of local bloggers, many of whom I consider friends and enjoy collaborating with.

Cristen’s Questions For Me:

  • What drove you to start your blog and when did you start it?

I had always read food blogs but was too afraid to start my own. After I made arrangements to travel to Puebla and Queretaro, Mexico with two friends, I vowed to start a blog and begin by writing about our trip. I was inspired by Twin Cities food writers and bloggers and realized I also wanted to contribute to the discussion.

  • Who or what inspires you in the kitchen?

A childhood watching Julia Child and Two Fat Ladies and reading cookbooks like novels. Now, I love exploring these food fascinations in my own kitchen. I am also inspired by recipes and techniques I see on food television, magazines, books, and blogs. My husband and I live in a smaller city and can’t just run out for Korean and Indian food so I’m inspired to learn how to make more foods.

  • How much time do you spend on your blog per day?

It depends on the day. Typically, I’ll spend about two hours a day chipping away on posts and commenting on other blogs. If I have the time and hit a writing groove, I’ll spend more hours.

  • Who convinced you to finally start your blog?

My family and friends have been very supportive of my blogging, but I think I had to convince myself.

  • What are your three top favorite personal recipes you’ve ever featured?

How I baked a cheap ham, (more for the commentary than the recipe), Korean Chap Chae and Lefse. As an honorable fourth, Stu’s recipe for a crock pot corned beef & cabbage meal.

Liebster Collage.jpg

  • What topics would you like to cover more in your blog posts?

Local travel and exploration. I embarked on a lot of road trips and detours when I lived in North Dakota and would like to continue to explore oddities, small town cafes, dive bars in Iowa and Southern Minnesota.

  • What is one skill you wish you had?


  • Where do you see your blog in 5 years?

I would like to have grown my readership and continued to connect with my readers and other writers. I also hope to remain true to my mission to write the blog I want to read. It would be a dream come true if blogging led to travel opportunities.

  • What is one dish or baked good that you’d love to master?

I would like to make better Indian food.

  • If you could cook one meal for anyone (alive or passed) who would it be for and what would it be?

My mom passed away from cancer in 2008 and never really got to try my cooking. I would love to make her knoephla soup and strawberry pie with a homemade crust.

  • What is your advice for someone thinking about starting a blog of their own?

First and foremost, be authentic.

If you see yourself blogging long-term, invest in a self-hosted WordPress site. I spent my first three years on Blogger before transferring everything to my own website. I am grateful for those who assisted me with this process (most especially Mike at Tela) and wish I had moved sooner.

Choose your blog name wisely so you don’t have to rebrand later, but don’t let this stop you from getting started.

Connect with local blogging networks, always consider bloggers as friends instead of competition, and don’t be afraid to use social media platforms like Twitter, Instagram and Google +. Once you publish, you’re out there, so go for it.

Eleven Random Facts:

  1. I have an irrational fear of bugs and insects.
  2. My favorite color is pink.
  3. I didn’t watch The Goonies until the end of my senior year of college.
  4. I finally visited the iconic Spoonbridge & Cherry sculpture in Minneapolis when I was 26.
  5. I don’t like frosting.
  6. The best concert I ever attended was Colin Hay playing The Pantages Theater in Minneapolis, MN in 2006.
  7. Most everything I cook at home is spicy.
  8. If I could travel anywhere tomorrow, I would like to see the redwood trees in northern California.
  9. One of the most interesting and impactful experiences of my life was living at a homeless mission in San Bernardino, CA during a May term.
  10. Growing up, my family spent a lot of time in Laguna Hills, CA and Cuyahoga Falls, OH visiting relatives. My grandparents have since passed away and my aunts and uncles moved.
  11. I like washing dishes by hand. And, just like my grandma, I find it relaxing. If I’m invited to your house, I’ll probably wash your dishes, too.

Liebster Award Tag!
I’d like to recognize the following blogs. Whether or not these bloggers have more than 1,000 followers, I don’t know but I look forward to reading whatever they write.

  • Feisty Eats: I’ve followed Sarah since I lived in North Dakota. She also shares a variety of recipes and her inspiring health journey. I feel like we’re kindred spirits in that we get joy from pet ownership.
  • Katey911: Katey is also a North Dakota blogger. I had the pleasure of meeting her briefly before moving to Iowa. She shares her thoughts on life frankly and authentically.

My Questions for My Nominees:

  1. What’s your blogging mission?
  2. What drove you to start your blog?
  3. What would you like to write about more often?
  4. What always makes you laugh?
  5. What are your top three personal favorite blog posts (not necessarily the ones that get the most views)?
  6. If you could see any musician perform live, who would that be and why?
  7. What’s your favorite hometown food or restaurant?
  8. How do you fight writer’s block?
  9. What advice do you have for new bloggers?
  10. What are three essentials you always stock in your fridge?
  11. Who’s one of your childhood heroes?

Liebster Award nominees can participate by doing the following :

  • Thank the blogger who presented you with the Liebster Award and provide a link back to his or her blog.
  • Answer the questions from the nominator, list 11 random facts about yourself, and create 11 questions for your nominees.
  • Present the Liebster Award to several other bloggers who have blogs whom you feel deserve to be noticed.
  • Leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been nominated or email them.
  • Upload the Liebster Award image to your blog.