Alissa smiling with a friend in Minnesota

I’m From Minnesota and That May Be One of the Best Things About Me

inspiration May 30, 2019

I found myself blasting country music on my drive home the other day. Country isn’t in my rotation too often anymore, but something inside of me was craving a little George Strait.

“Here For a Good Time” threw me right back into my high school days. Suddenly, I was singing every word and floating on a high of nostalgia.

In that moment, I missed Minnesota so much.

The land of 10,000 lakes (even though there’s more than that). The state of hockey. The birthplace of the Juicy Lucy. Home to the nicest people and coldest winters you’ll ever meet. The land of hot dish, pop, and “duck, duck, grey duck”.

It holds a special place in my heart.

Since living in California, any time I go on vacation and get asked where I’m from, I have to stop for a second. “Well, I’m FROM Minnesota but I live in California now.”

I actually thought I’d stay in Minnesota forever. Moving to California wasn’t in my game plan (Surprise! I never have a plan). I thought it’d be too expensive. I thought people would be unfriendly, I wouldn’t be able to raise down-to-earth kids, et cetera.

Well, I’m here to report: yes, it is expensive. Taxes are ridiculous. But, I’ve met some of the best humans I’ve ever known here. And I haven’t tried the kids thing yet, but we live in a community now where I’ll be happy to have our future children grow up.

It’s all about the energy you bring to a place and I think one of the best things about me is that I’m from Minnesota. It’s shaped me into the woman I am today.

Minnesotans Are Easygoing

I grew up in a small town called Hastings. It’s situated right on the Mississippi river and if you take the bridge to cross the river, you’re basically at the Wisconsin border. Which really came in handy on Sundays when you couldn’t buy liquor in Minnesota. We’d just hop the border to buy booze in good ol’ ‘Sconnie.

The closest shopping centers are about half an hour away; Burnsville Center, Woodbury Lakes, or if you’re feelin’ ready to face the crowds, Mall of America. For a while, Hastings had a Target and Panera Bread, which was a big deal. There’s also a movie theater, Dairy Queen, Chipotle, Applebees, and some locally owned restaurants.

Everyone in town goes to the same middle school and high school which means, you grow up with these people. You pretty much know everyone in town, which can be good and bad. You can’t get away with much without someone hearing about it.

Downtown Hastings on a car show night – my favorite!

Nothing fancy. And that’s what’s great about it. I didn’t have the world at my fingertips when I was growing up. I didn’t have a ton of options, which meant, I was pretty dang easy to please. One of our favorite activities was going to Applebees after 9 p.m. to get half off appetizers.

There wasn’t always a whole lot to do so we made the best of what we had. We didn’t know any different.

High school Friday nights often looked like giant bonfires in a field. If you were lucky, maybe a party in someone’s basement or heated garage. I was always excited when that was the case so I could wear a cute outfit. Most likely a pair of Miss Me’s with the blinged out pockets and a top from The Buckle.

Girls, I know you know what I’m talking about!

I can’t tell you how many Saturday afternoons I spent sitting in a shop warmed by a propane heater while I watched my guy friends put lift kits in their truck or tint their windows.

The way I grew up, country music blared, guys’ hands were usually a little dirty, and hard work was glorified. Life was simple and that’s the way we liked it.

Before California, I’d never lived in a big city. I went to college at University of Wisconsin – Stout in Menomonie, WI. Menomonie is another small town. Smaller than Hastings!

That being said, it was sensory overload for this small town gal when I stepped off the plane in Orange County, California. There were so many options! So many different types of foods; so many things to do all the time. Endless concerts, events, hikes, activities. If you’re bored here, you are doing that to your own dang self.

I quickly made friends who came from bigger cities. I always felt like I was about ten steps behind them. I didn’t know the bands they were talking about. I hadn’t heard of these clothing brands they were buying. I barely used Instagram. I had a lot of catching up to do. I tried acai bowls, pad thai, and poke for the first time.

My world was rocked.

I was introduced to a whole new way of living and I loved it. And as a reminder, I came from a small town in Minnesota. People who grew up in bigger cities in Minnesota probably experienced a lot more than I had.

Most of the people around me were already used to this life. They took it for granted a little bit, all these options. And who could blame them? This was normal for them. For me, I was a curious little fish in a big sea. A constant grin plastered to my face, eyes glittering at this new life before of me.

I’m a girl who loves adventure and trying new things. I can’t do the same thing over and over again without getting bored. But I’m also a girl who’s down to spend Friday night sitting on a tailgate around a bonfire. I’m still one to get pumped for half off apps at Applebees. Potato twisters, anyone?

I’m easygoing and as Matt likes to say, “a cheap date” (sometimes). Because, don’t get me wrong, I love a nice meal in a beautiful atmosphere. But at the end of the day, what matters to me most is the people I’m with and how a place makes me feel.

A mindset of gratitude and curiosity; of being easygoing and appreciating whatever’s in front of me has translated well to California life. I’ve been here 4 1/2 years now and have yet to lose that sense of wonder and excitement for all that’s around me.

Minnesotans Are Resilient

Um, have you ever experienced a Minnesota winter?

One of the prerequisite questions I asked Matt, a SoCal native, was the coldest temperature he’s ever felt. His answer was -10.

I respected that.

If you’ve never felt super, super cold weather. I’m talking like, below zero weather, let me try to explain it. Minnesota in the winter feels like you’re sticking your face in a freezer for ten minutes, except worse. Your nostrils freeze together. Your eyes water and sting as brisk wind whips your face. That wind chill, man. It feels like little icicles stabbing you all over your body.

Like, you have to experience it to understand. But, it’s damn cold!

And somehow, Minnesotans are the nicest, warmest people you’ll meet.

Prince had the greatest quote about Minnesota,

I will always live in Minneapolis. It’s so cold, it keeps the bad people out.


Yes! Yes yes yes. That warms my heart. The people who survive Minnesota winters are a special kind of person. And, as Minnesotans do, we make the best of it!

We spent winters snowmobiling, skating on the pond in our backyard, sledding, skiing. In college, there was a boot hockey tournament that took place on Lake Menomin behind the Waterfront Bar and Grill.

The tournament was in January or February AKA the most brutally cold time of the year. But it was one of the most highly anticipated college activities. My guy friends would drive their trucks out onto the lake. After a couple hours, us girls usually piled inside the trucks for warmth. We played flip cup on the tailgate and drank Bloody Mary’s from the Waterfront in our own personal pitchers.

Ever heard of a beer jacket?

My biggest frustration was that I couldn’t wear what I wanted in the winter, but I made due. In college, I’d trudge to the bar in my heavy duty Sorel boots, then change into my cute shoes once I got inside.

Resilient, right? We never let a little snow and ice stop us.

When I moved to California, it was February. It was like 60 degrees here and I was pumped. On the first day of my internship, I opted to eat breakfast outside on the patio in a tank top. The interns and HR woman laughed at me.

They were like, “Girl, it’s cold outside, what are you doing?!”

I vowed then and there I’d never take this beautiful California weather for granted. If 60 degrees was cold, then sign me up because I came from -30.

Minnesotans Know How to Have a Good Time

Okay, this kind of goes along with what I touched on in the section above. BUT, I have to tell you about Minnesota summers.

Yep, that’s right, it’s not a frozen tundra all the time. On the contrary. It gets crazy hot in the summer.

Here’s my favorite thing about Minnesotans: once it hits about 40 degrees in March, they’re outside. They’re going for walks, sitting out on their decks, ditching the winter coats. It’s amazing because you go a little south and people are bundled up in 40 degree weather.

Nothing better than a summer night on the Me & Julio patio!

I’ll admit, I’ve lost my edge. I’m now part of the group of people who bundle in 40 degree weather. Honestly, I bundle when it’s under 60 nowadays. I’m not proud of it.

Anyway, once that last snow starts to melt, you feel a buzz of excitement in the air. I always loved the fresh smell of grass after a long winter; the smell of the state coming back to life. However, spring in Minnesota is a season of cautious optimism. You can’t trust the warm weather until about June. I’ve experienced my fair share of snowfalls in May.

Minnesota summers, though, are the best. Summer means three months of solid weather so you’d better make the most of it. Summers are filled with boating; float tubing down the river; long weekends “up north” at the lake; perusing the county fair.

I grew up boating on the river, so that’s where the majority of my childhood memories take place. And in high school, I loved driving over to Wisconsin and spending Saturdays at Prescott Beach with my girlfriends.

I also lived for fairs. All the people to see, food to eat, shows to watch. We went to countless truck pulls, demo derbies, and mud runs every summer because we almost always had a friend competing.

And then, there’s Rivertown Days – Hastings’ annual fair that takes place in July right along the river downtown.

Rivertown Days was like, the event of the summer. At least in my mind. It was always a big deal because it was when you’d run into all the classmates you hadn’t seen all summer. Everyone goes to Rivertown Days.

In California, it’s a little different. There’s beautiful weather year round so there isn’t that sense of urgency to soak it all up. I mean yes, winter is a little colder and rainier, but it’s obviously not comparable.

Nonetheless, I think it’s been engrained in me to appreciate every beautiful day as if it may not happen again. And, I’m happy to report, I’ve been able to partake in my favorite summer activities here. We’ve made a few trips to the Colorado River. We’ve gone to the Orange County Fair the past two summers in a row, AND we even went to a rodeo with my friend, Meg who’s from a small town in Louisiana.

At the rodeo with Meg and Matt!

It’s no surprise that one of the best friends I’ve met in California came from a small town too. We know how to have the best time!

Minnesotans Are Nice

I’m always so happy when people visit Minnesota for the first time and have the best experience.

They always come back amazed. “People are like, so nice there.”

Yes, yes they are. I think it goes back to the resilient and easygoing thing. When you’re bred to make the most of whatever you’re given, I think you’re naturally going to be a pretty good-natured person.

If you live in Minnesota long enough, you realize it’s useless to complain about the weather. I mean, people still do. But if you choose to live in Minnesota, you know you’re signing up for a long, long winter.

And while the winters do drag on, I’d say the majority of Minnesotans have a pretty good attitude about them. Sometimes there’s nothing you can do but laugh at the insanity of yet another blizzard.

Go into any bar in January and you’ll find Minnesotans bonding with one another about how chilly it is while they enjoy beers and cheese curds and pray for a Vikings win.

“It wouldn’t be so bad if it weren’t for that darn windchill, ya know?”

There’s just this warm feeling of community that’s so special and unique.

Aside from family and friends, if there was one thing I really missed when I moved to California, it was that feeling of community. I don’t love the anonymity of being just another face in the crowd in a large city.

But, let’s be real. I loved living in Newport Beach and Laguna Beach. It would be absurd to deny that. I woke up in awe of my surroundings every single morning. I just craved the sense of community I used to have back home, so in terms of finding a place we wanted to settle down long term, that was high on the list.

When Matt and I found our house in Modjeska Canyon, we knew it was perfect. Modjeska has a population of about 600 people. When you drive down our road, you wave. Sometimes you have to wait for turkeys to cross the road. When our neighbor lost his cat, we teamed up to find him. Our neighbors regularly bring by fresh veggies from their garden and delicious baked goods.

We found a slice of the Midwest right here in South Orange County.

So, when I flipped on that country music the other day while driving home, I couldn’t help but feel overcome with such an understanding of why things happened for me the way they did.

My life in Minnesota prepared me for where I’m at today. I’m able to live out my dreams of working in the corporate retail industry. I’m a hop, skip, and a jump away from the ocean. I have access to the new adventures I crave, but I also have a slice of Minnesota that I come home to every day.

With love,