6 Things You Learn at Your First Local Blogger Bash + A GIVEAWAY!

Sure, I’m a travel blogger, sailor and writer, but I’m staying put for the moment as I plan my next adventure. So I was delighted at the chance to see what’s going on close to home, by heading down to Union Depot in St. Paul for the first annual Minnesota Blogger Bash sponsored by Lowertown Pop. I wasn’t sure what to expect from my first local blog event. Here’s what I learned:

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  1. There are so many local makers I didn’t know about! From vodka made from sugar beets to designers offering versatile apparel for travelers, people in Minnesota are kicking ass with their entrepreneurial spirit.
  2. From fitness to parenthood to travel to fashion, the Twin Cities is a haven for bloggers looking to collaborate. I only wish I could have stuck around long enough to meet more of them.
  3. Getting there early pays! The first 50 bloggers in the door received a goodie bag to pack with free stuff from every maker, and of course I wanted to be one of them.
  4. Food! Crave Catering showed up with a table full of treats.
  5. Don’t be shy. Striking up conversations is how you get tips and collaborations. (Believe me, as an ambivert, I’m still working on this myself).
  6.  You can win prizes!!

Wait, actually you don’t have to go anywhere to win prizes. You can win them right here. I have 2 tickets (normally a $30 value) to give away to the inaugural Lowertown Pop, an even bigger, bolder version of the bash, happening April 15 at Union Depot. Here’s the details:

 “A Minnesota Maker market featuring local artisans and craftspeople including brewers, bakers, distillers, artists and musicians. The annual market will be held on Saturday, April 15th, 2017 in the Waiting Room at Union Depot and will benefit River’s Edge Academy, a non-profit organization challenging students to discover their greatness by learning through experience in a small, supportive community. Lowertown Pop is a crowdfunding market, meaning 50 percent of ticket sales will be donated to River’s Edge Academy and 50 percent will be given to one lucky Minnesota Maker.”

So what do you have to do win these tickets? Leave me a message in the comments or on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram (“I want those tickets,” Gimme the tickets,” etc. etc.) I’ll choose a winner at random Monday, April 10.

 

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5 Best Places to Eat for Cheap in Caye Caulker, Belize

Belize is known as the most expensive country in Central America, but it doesn’t have to be if you know where to look for cheap eats. The food in Belize is exploding with Caribbean flavor, and it’s all made with love. During my week in Caye Caulker, I became a bit of an expert on finding the best, cheapest places to chow down. Here are the 5 best cheap places to eat in Caye Caulker, Belize:

 

  1. Southside Pizza

Photo courtesy CCToday.biz

Pizza is hit or miss in the Caribbean (weird processed cheese, ham toppings, oddly-textured crust). But not at Southside. Here, the gooey mozzarella cut into triangles is like the best of New York-style meets the best of Chicago-style. I wish the pizza in Minnesota was this good. You cannot eat just one of these slices. One tip: call ahead. This pizza takes a long time, but it’s so worth it.

  1. Belizean Flava

If you see a bunch of guys in the street standing next to a grill and yelling at you, you’ve come to the right place. Turn to your left, go up the stairs, find a hardworking Belizean lady leaning over a fiery-hot oven, and you’re there. You can get a plate of lip-smacking BBQ chicken (or jerk if you’re a spice lover) for $15 Belize ($7.50 US), which includes two sides (including salad, garlic mashed potatoes, rice, or fries) and two (count ‘em two! rum punches). It’s the best deal in town. This is also where I indulged and ordered lionfish for the first time (an invasive species in the Caribbean, and thankfully highly delicious when grilled in foil with peppers and tomatoes). I must have eaten here 4 times during my week in Caye Caulker, and my friends started going there too.

  1. Ice & Beans

Three words: Free Mini Donuts. And their French press Belizean coffee is the best in town. Even the guy from Best of the Fair–who gets his fill of fried foods daily–told me he goes here daily for his free mini donut and coffee fix.

  1. Errolyn’s House of Fryjacks

Have a fryjack, you’ll never go back (I came up with that). I’m officially obsessed with these puffy, deep-fried Belizean breakfast specialties. Personally, I can devour five of them plain in one sitting, but if you’re more adventurous, at Errolyn’s they come stuffed with ham, cheese, beans or any other breakfast food you can imagine.

  1. Best of the Fair

This is pure indulgence, but hey, you’re on holiday. As a dedicated goer to the Minnesota State Fair, I felt right at home eating the Tornado Potato, Bubble Waffles, and deep-fried corn dogs.