Imminent Brewing – Final Reveal

Northfield Construction Company - Fri, 07/21/2017 - 2:51pm

We know everyone was excited to follow along on the progress of Imminent Brewing. We are so proud of how the final concept came together. It was a first for both of us — NCC’s first brewery project and the Imminent Team’s first brewery! We learned a lot along the way and after it was […]

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Categories: Businesses

Stargazing with Oriental Lilies

Oriental Lily, Lilium ‘Hotline’

This time each summer, our midnight sky is streaked with the illuminant beauty of the Perseid meteor shower. Coincidentally, the aptly named Stargazer Lily also reaches its peak. Its large, extremely fragrant, fuchsia pink and white flowers come into bloom, with upturned faces gazing into the sky. This summer, another oriental lily has been turning heads with breathtaking beauty and fragrance, ‘Hotline’. ‘Hotline’ Oriental Lily produces large, pure white flowers, edged with a line of hot pink, creating a simple and elegant beauty. As the flowers age the pink edge can darken and spread throughout the blossom, making each flower its own unique combination of white, fuchsia-pink and maroon. Oriental lilies thrive in full sun with their bulbs and roots kept cool in the shade of neighboring plants. Because oriental lilies don’t require a lot of real estate they are ideal tucked in between established perennials. Mulching well will also help keep their “feet” cool. You can grow oriental lilies in just about any well drained soil from zone 3 to 9. The 3 foot sturdy stems of ‘Hotline’ and those spectacularly fragrant, showy flowers make them an excellent fresh cutting. Plant them near sitting areas, patios and decks where their fragrance in the garden can be enjoyed during the day, or at night, while stargazing.

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Categories: Businesses

Hydrangeas are in Bloom

Limelight Hydrangea Tree

Hydrangeas are in bloom all across southern Minnesota with many varieties that are still yet to bloom within the next six weeks!

I love hydrangeas for many reasons.  Hydrangeas display large, lush blossoms that last for anywhere from four weeks to twelve weeks.  That is a far longer period of time for us to enjoy a wonderful feast for the eyes, and there are many interesting varieties that are able to prosper despite the pretty tough winters we have in the Northfield area!

Hydrangeas are great in that they come in shrub form and tree form.

Bobo Hydrangea Hardy Hydrangea

Another very nice characteristic of hydrangeas is their toughness and adaptability,  with the ability to grow in almost any soil type.  Many varieties are able to do well as far north as Ely and International Falls.

While most flowering shrubs and trees bloom only for one to two weeks in April and May, hydrangeas have lovely blossoms for six to eight to twelve weeks.

Excellent hydrangea varieties for southern Minnesota include Incrediball, Incrediball Blush, Spirit II, Spirit Ruby, Limelight, Little Lime, Little Quickfire, Quickfire, Diamond Rouge, Bob, Firelight, Pinky Winky, Vanilla Strawberry and many more.


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Categories: Businesses

5 Steps to Taking a Good Photo

Brand Yourself Consulting - Tami Enfield - Wed, 07/19/2017 - 1:44pm

Hello All! Tasha here. As you may have read in my bio, I have been a professional photographer for nearly two decades and so naturally I was the one at Brand Yourself who was asked to write this blog post. “How do I take a good photo?” is the question I aim to answer here for you. However, the photographer in me is struggling with how to simplify this into a blog post versus a 6-month mentoring session. I believe there are SO many things that you can do to create a stunning print and I also believe that we are all consistently building and growing our skills no matter where we are in our photography journey. But this blog post is about the basics. The building blocks, if you will, on what to consider when taking a photo so you can begin to elevate the images you want to capture. We encourage you to take these concepts and build upon these over time – play, practice, analyze, and repeat. Though our mothers may have always said, “Practice makes perfect,” perfect doesn’t have to be perfection. Perfection is something left to be interpreted. Let your “perfect” be simply an expression of how you viewed the moment happening in front of you and captured it in a still image to cherish for a lifetime.

No one else can ever take the exact same photo as you just did… and that, my friends, IS perfect.

Enough with the small talk, let’s get to it! In our 27 years of combined photography experience, Tami and I don’t necessarily believe that you must have high-end equipment to take great photos.

We believe that if you can find the best light and choose the best exposure, you can take beautiful photos no matter where you go, no matter what camera you are holding in your hand, no matter who is your subject.

Whether you are a business owner wanting to take better photos for social media or a mom who wants to capture better images of her children, these steps can be applied to any photography shoot. Let’s chat through these basic steps.

Step 1) Find the light.

The difference between a really beautiful photo and an okay photo is the light! Ask yourself, “where is the main light source?” and then watch how that light lands on your subject. Try putting the light behind the subject for a natural glow, or straight on the subject (I would consider having your subject look down or to the side so he/she is not squinting with the sun in their face). You’ll notice how the colors in your images change when the light is directly behind your subject versus when the light is directly on the front of your subject. The colors and the sky are more vibrant when the light is direct. The light behind a subject gives a diffused and softer feel to the image. Neither is right or wrong and both produce beautiful results! My simple advice is to FIRST find the best light for your subject and THEN find the background you want to photograph on within that light. Most people will find their background first and the light may be harsh or spotty in that location which then takes away from a great photo. Here are a few examples of some images that I recently captured with 3 different types of lighting: behind/diffused, direct/straight on, and side/directional lighting.

*Flower design in these first two photos are by the amazing Ashley Fox Designs.* Step 2) Watch your background.

Like I said above, be sure to find your light first and then your background. Once you’ve found beautiful light (one simple tip: cloudy days or shady areas tend to be the easiest to photograph in because your light is nearly even on all sides of your subject), then you can position your subject for the photo. Here is where you want to watch for what photographers would call “mergers”. Mergers are items like telephone poles, red exit signs or other distracting elements that appear to be growing out of your subject’s head/body. You can move these mergers by moving yourself a little more to one side or by moving the camera a little up or down. Try it the next time you notice a distracting element in the background. And… you’re welcome… you won’t be able to look at your friends’ photos the same ever again, you’ll always be noticing mergers!

Step 3) Expose correctly.

When I mentored other photographers, I would find myself saying over and over, “pull back on your highlights.” This meant that when they were taking a picture, they were letting the highlights (the lightest parts) in the image lose all its detail. I would encourage them to take the picture a little darker next time so the details remain in the highlights. Here are two examples of images, one with overexposed highlights and another with correctly exposed highlights. Notice the difference? There is more depth and interest to a photo where the highlights are not all over exposed.

Step 4) Capture the fleeting moments!

You’ve learned a few technical tips, but don’t let this scare you from taking photos. They are little tips that you can start to train your eye to see. However, moments are fleeting and you can’t always stop the moment and reposition your subject. So, I would simply encourage you to just capture life when life is happening. The beautiful moments in life! When you have the time to look for the ideal light, watch for mergers, and adjust your exposure, then do so! But when you don’t, just simply capture the moment. You’ll be so happy you did!

Then after you have captured that beautiful moment, please don’t just keep it on your phone or computer, print that baby! The generations after you will thank you!

Step 5) Print. Print. Print.

Did I mention that you should probably print your photos? Well, let me repeat. Print your photos! I believe moments large and small should be printed – consider it just one back up of your photos (external hard drives are nice for another back up). Some of my favorite moments as a child and even now, as an adult, are browsing through old printed photos. We live in a technology-driven era and its wonderful! However, technology sometimes fails and then, sadly, it’s likely too late. Take it from the girl who lost the first 4 months of photos and videos from my son’s life that I had captured on my iPhone before it crashed and burned. Thankfully, I had a few professional photos taken and family members who shared what they had captured. But some of those sweet little moments that just he and I shared together are now only memories. I urge you to consider printing your photos so you, your children, and generations beyond will have them to look through! In our home, we have a few large canvases of different phases of our family life, we have smaller prints in frames and we love and use little printed books for all the images that we capture on our phones (even a photographer finds herself documenting her life on an iPhone). Whatever and however you choose to display your images, I hope you choose to print them!

If you are wanting or needing photos done for your family, we are more than happy to recommend some of our most favorite photographers in the area! Send us a message or give one of us a call. Whether it’s for photos or a business question, reach out to us, because more than anything, we love to support small local businesses and connect you with the businesses that will bring light and ease into your lives!

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Categories: Businesses

Tickseed, Coreopsis ‘Early Sunrise’

Coreopsis ‘Early Sunrise’ Photo courtesy of Bailey Nurseries, Inc.

Summer is in full swing, and so are summer flowering perennials like coreopsis (tickseed). Coreopsis has long been a favorite of mine. Their cheerful, bright golden flowers shine like the sun, recalling fond memories of small bouquets for the table, and the image of my older sister tucking them into lovely arrangements for the annual flower show each summer. Coreopsis are hardy, long-lived perennials. They prefer average, well-drained garden soil, but will perform nicely in gravely, sandy or heavier soils that have been amended with good quality compost or composted manure. Of the many wonderful varieties we carry, Coreopsis ‘Early Sunrise’, is an All American Winner. ‘Early Sunrise’ is a compact selection. Clumps mature at 12” tall and wide, making it a great choice for the front of the border. Its long-lasting, golden-yellow, double 1.5-2” flowers add a ruffled softness to these strong and sturdy plants. Keep your coreopsis blooming longer by removing the spent blooms as the flowers fade. This keeps a clean looking plant and encourages more buds.

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Categories: Businesses

The Pre-Construction Process with Northfield Construction Company

Northfield Construction Company - Mon, 07/10/2017 - 1:48pm

Ok. You’ve decided to build a house. You’ve found the perfect lot and downloaded a plan from the internet that you think might work. What’s next? Northfield Construction Company is a full-service contractor that specializes in custom home building projects. This means that we don’t have “favorite” plans you can choose from on pre-determined lots. […]

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Categories: Businesses

Astilbe, False Spirea

Astilbe ‘Delft Lace’ Photo Courtesy of Bailey Nurseries

Astilbe are a favorite perennial for shaded garden beds and borders. Sturdy flower stems rise up above their bushy clumps of dark green foliage in early to mid summer, sporting showy plumes in shades of red, pink, purple and white. Astilbe make a perfect companion plant to hostas, ferns, woodland grasses and brunera. Their flowers make fun and long lasting additions to fresh cut bouquets and dried arrangements. They are deer and rabbit resistant, and supportive of bees. Astilbe thrive in part shade and average to slightly acidic soils. Their one requirement is moisture. Regular watering will produce and maintain vigorous and long lived plants. Plant in mass, along woodland borders, or as a specimen.

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Categories: Businesses

Crimson Sunset Maple

Photo courtesy J. Frank Schmidt & Son Nursery

Each spring Crimson Sunset Maples develop a beautiful canopy of colorful reddish purple leaves that continue to  add nice color to the landscaping throughout the whole growing season.  Purple leafed Norway Maple varieties such as crimson King Maple and Royal Red Maple have been enjoyed for many decades, and the relatively new Crimson Sunset Maple appears to be a good improvement.

I have observed that Crimson Sunset Maple holds its reddish purple color very well through the heat of summer, and displays some reddish  highlights during the fall leaf color change.  The leaves of Crimson Sunset also  have a very nice shape  with well defined edges, and a very slight cupping near their edges that makes for a handsome and healthy appearance.

Toughness also is an excellent characteristic of Crimson Sunset Maple, which is a hybrid of the older purple Norway Maples and a Shantung Maple from China.   The bark of Crimson Sunset Maple seems to resist cracking and sunscald, and we have seen good resistance to salty road spray being blown off the highways during our long Minnesota winters.  These attributes make Crimson Sunset Maple a real winner for people who love purple leafed trees, and they are available in #7, #15 and #30 container sizes so you  can have a variety of price points to choose from!

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Categories: Businesses

Making your Trees Stronger and more Valuable

This is a correct pruning cut.

Trees can be a sizeable investment of hard earned dollars.  One of the surest ways to protect and increase the value of your property is to prune the trees  you plant every other  year the first ten years after planting.  These early years in the life of a tree are the years when fairly aggressive pruning yields the best results, and are the years when pruning is easiest.

The day you plant a tree, make up your mind that you will prune that tree every other year without fail during its first ten years.  By doing so, pruning wounds will be small and heal quickly and you will be shaping a tree that will be much stronger during storms.

Try to avoid delaying the pruning of your tree.  If you wait loo long it may become exceedingly difficult or impossible to achieve good structure and great beauty.

After the first ten years, pruning every 3 to 5 years by a skilled arborist should be sufficient to  maintain sound structure.  A tutorial on pruning by the University of Minnesota extension site is a good reference.

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Categories: Businesses

Garden Phlox

Pink garden phlox, perfectly spaced, in a mixed perennial bed.

In early spring, creeping phlox brightens our landscape beds and borders with carpets of bright pink, purple, blue and white. In late spring, as its vibrancy begins to fade, woodland phlox begins popping up along woodland edges and roadsides. Now, as we continue to grow into summer, we are treated to yet another floral and fragrant beauty from the phlox family…garden phlox! Garden phlox bloom in a range of colors that encompasses everything from white and soft pink to lavender, deep purple, coral, hot pink and red. These hardy perennials form sturdy, upright clumps. Dwarf and compact varieties will reach heights of 15-18”, while larger varieties can reach nearly 3′. Garden phlox require full sun and average, well drained garden soil. Powdery mildew can become an issue in areas with poor air circulation, or where the plant’s foliage is kept too wet. Help keep your garden phlox looking its best by avoiding over-planting. Good air circulation can make all the difference!

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Categories: Businesses

Top 10 Things to Consider Before Running a Facebook Ad Campaign

Brand Yourself Consulting - Tami Enfield - Mon, 06/26/2017 - 4:29pm

Oh sure, anyone who is anyone with a business is running Facebook Ads these days but most are just “winging” it and paying for it… literally. Running an ad campaign on Facebook and/or Instagram (or other social media platforms) can be highly effective when you put a little time and effort into your planning. Below are a few tips for you to consider before you run your next ad campaign.

Every business has a unique ideal client. Today, let’s pretend that we are developing an ad campaign to get someone to shop at a local women’s clothing boutique. However, these steps can be fine-tuned to your business and ideal client, even in you are an online B2B retailer who ships products worldwide!

1)      Trust the process.

Your ideal client fast forwards through commercials. He quickly flips by the ads in his monthly magazine subscription. She is a bit distracted behind the wheel and doesn’t see the billboard with the expensive ad on it (thanks kids in the back seat!). But he DOES spend time on social media every day. In fact, there are 1.23 billion daily active users on Facebook and guess what?!… they chose to be there and actively engage!

2)      Know your ideal client.

You have the ability to target precise audiences on Facebook and Instagram. Knowing precisely who your ideal client is will help you effectively build an audience for your ads. Our example ad might focus their efforts on reaching women age 22-45 who like to shop at boutiques, have a household income of $50,000 or more, work full-time, have an interest in the latest fashion trends, and live within 25 miles of our store.

3)      Have a goal in mind.

Write down your goals followed by the steps your ideal customer would follow to get there. Now build your campaign with the end in mind. For our local boutique, our goal would be to get a customer in the door to purchase a trendy dress, jewelry and shoes for an upcoming wedding she will be attending. Let’s develop the process on how she might end up walking through the front door. First, they need to HEAR about you (Facebook ad, testimonial from a friend, or by driving by the shop). Next, they need to have an incentive or a reason to click on your ad (she has a wedding she is attending this weekend as a guest and needs a cute dress that all of her friends will want and she needs it ASAP). Your incentive may be 15% off your first purchase at the boutique. And lastly, you want to create urgency, so consider putting an expiration on the incentive. Other campaign examples you may want to consider are increasing “likes” to your page where you are actively posting and engaging with your followers, or boosting a post to your current fans and others like them in the area, having new customers download your app, or gaining attendees to an upcoming event you are hosting. Regardless, know your end goal and then build the campaign around this specific goal you have set. The interface for building your campaign will guide you through these steps.

4)      Set your budget and timeframe.

You can spend as little or as much as you want. The more you spend, the more your ad is placed in front of your custom audience. You can choose a daily amount to spend or an overall campaign amount. We typically set our budget for the entire campaign and choose our start and end time for the campaign. Facebook and Instagram both allow you to optimize the spending of your ads meaning that your ad may not be shown as often on a Monday early morning as it would on a Thursday afternoon or evening. Your budget can range from as little as $1 per day to thousands of dollars per day (our local boutique will likely not spend thousands per day but more like $10-$15 per day). A suggested place to start for a small business is to spend $300 run the ad for a month (average $10 a day). After watching your ad’s performance for 5 days and learning more about your audience, you may want to increase your budget so your ad is shown to your ideal client a few times over the course of your campaign. Your client may not see your ad the first time, so presenting it in front of her a few times will help increase your ad’s effectiveness.

5)      Split test multiple ads simultaneously.

You will want to create more than one ad to run at a time. We suggest split testing one change in your ad at a time. For example, our local boutique may run an ad to the same custom audience and offer the same discount, but split test a video ad against a carousel of 3 product images. After choosing what you will split test, run your campaign for a minimum of 5 days to watch the performance of each. After 5-7 days, take the ad that performed better and create another split test. This time, consider split testing your offer. Maybe you run an ad offering buy 2 get 1 free against the 15% off offer. Run this ad for 5 days and again watch its performance. Continue split testing over time so you can really hone in on what is working best for your business! Other examples of split testing may include (for the sake of time and space, know that there are hundreds of items that you can split test, we’ve listed just a handful of ideas here): location, age, gender, interests, those who recently visited your area, education, those who follow leaders in an industry, connections, and even behaviors. Some professional agencies, such as ours, are capable of split testing numerous ads at one time resulting in desired results more quickly as we can analyze as many as 100+ slight changes within your ads each week.

6)      Choose your photos and/or videos wisely.

Most ads do not need professional and highly staged photos or videos (this isn’t always the case… photographers or videographers might want to consider really pretty photos and Instagram ads perform better with stylized photos). Consider this, Facebook is a place where people go to often just take a mental break. They scroll through their newsfeed and images or videos that their friends posted from their smart phone catch their eye and they stop to comment. Stock-like photos and videos tend to trigger the response in their mind that says, “warning, advertisement!” and they scroll past quickly. Those images and videos that feel like real life tend to perform better in most circumstances. Try using your smart phone to capture your ad images or videos and split test them against other photos or videos that you may have had professionally taken and gauge which performs better. One thing to note, if you are placing text on an image or video, it cannot cover more than 20% of the image per Facebook guidelines.

7)      Write good ad copy.

Good images or videos will capture the attention of your ideal client. But good copy will encourage your customers to take action. Headlines are the most important part of the copy – spend some time creating attention-grabbing headlines. Also make sure to split test (as mentioned above) different headlines to see how each performs. For the rest of your ad copy, be sure to tell your custom audience why its important for them to take action. Ideas to help you build your copy include: Why should they buy from you? Why is it important for them to have your product? Why should they trust you? Why should they buy now versus later? Etc.

8)      Include a Call-to-Action.

This can be “Learn More”, “Sign Up”, “Like Page”, etc. Think about your end goal and choose your call-to-action accordingly. You don’t want to say “Shop Now” if you don’t have the ability to shop online. You might choose, “Sign Up” if you want your target customer to visit your landing page and sign up to receive your newsletters. This is another item that you can split test as you move along throughout your campaign.

9)      Choose your placement.

Do you want to run the ads in the newsfeed of Facebook or perhaps the right column, in a group, or in Messenger? Or maybe you want to have your ad only show on the Instagram newsfeed or even in Instagram stories. Developing the strategy for your ad campaign should cover where your ideal clients are spending their time so you can place the ads in in front of them. You also have other options like Audience Network which extends your ads beyond Facebook or Instagram to reach audiences on mobile apps and websites. You have the option to choose where to manually place your ads, or you can allow Facebook to choose for you based on where your ad will likely perform best. And once again, you can split test placement as an option! Our little local boutique may want to run ads everywhere that Facebook believes they will likely perform best and simultaneously split test against just Instagram newsfeed only.

10)      If feeling overwhelmed, hire a professional.

Hey, that’s us! If all of this is a little overwhelming to you, know that we are here to help. We can build, manage and run your entire ad campaign or we can sit and chat over a cup of coffee in the local coffee shop (or for those out of state, in each of our own offices, with a cup of joe in hand) to develop a strategy for you and your team to implement right away. Either way, we would love to help jump start a successful social media ad campaign for your business!

So. Many. Options. We get it, its overwhelming! However, its all of these options that make your ads so effective. There are 3 million advertisers on Facebook but most have no idea what they are doing! Following these simple steps and analyzing your data will help your ideal clients find you.

Be sure to follow us on social media to learn more tips and tricks to help increase business for your business (social buttons below).

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Categories: Businesses

Wed, 12/31/1969 - 7:00pm
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