Monday, December 28, 2015

"Happy Holidays to All" from Lillie Imm

I hope you are enjoying this lovely time of year!  I love all the lights, Christmas music and holiday cheer.  The season began back in October for me with rehearsals for “The Nutcracker” ballet.  It was a magical experience and I was amazed at all the beautiful costuming, props and dancers.  But the best part for me was that for the first time my brother, Andrew, and I were in a production together.  I am grateful for the fun memories.

For the past 3 years, I have been organizing a group of students ages preschool through middle school to go Christmas caroling at Gracewood senior living.  Gracewood is an assisted living community and a memory care center.  Many of the residents love to sing along to the songs they know.  I think the crowd favorite is “Angels We Have Heard on High”.  The Christmas caroling always lights up everyone’s spirits and after caroling we all love to eat delicious cookies.  Who doesn’t like a little sugar!  Everyone had tons fun and I can’t wait for Christmas caroling again next year! 

Have a lovely holiday season everyone!

Lillie J

Lillie Imm, Miss Pre-teen Minnesota International 2015




"First Book & DC" by Kate Howe

While out in DC I had the opportunity to stop by First Book’s headquarters.  I have been there before and absolutely love the environment.  There are beautiful murals on the walls in the hallway, stories about the children we have helped and of course books everywhere!  To date, First Book has distributed more than 135 million books and educational resources to programs and schools serving children from low-income families.  First Book is transforming the lives of children in need and elevating the quality of education by making new, high-quality books available on an ongoing basis. 

I was able to sit down with Diana Peacock, who is First Book’s Senior Vice President of Development Alliances.  Diana provides strategic oversight for First Book’s corporate strategic alliance, individual giving and community based fundraising initiatives.  It was very exciting to drop off funds from my corporate partnerships and fundraising efforts.  Diana and I discussed the latest impact report and new fundraising techniques.  I can’t wait to try them out.


The next day we were off to the White House.  It was so nice to be reunited with my sister queens from across the country.  Mrs. DC International, Alegra Woodward, was incredibly sweet and took charge of arranging the tour for us.  At nationals, I made some close friends and it was wonderful to see them again.  I hold such a high respect for these women and all that they have accomplished with their platforms.  It was wonderful to see Mrs. International, Farabe Algor.  She is doing an incredible job as Mrs. International and taking the responsibility very seriously. 

The decorations in the White House were absolutely amazing!  Everywhere I looked there was another elegantly decorated Christmas tree.  I loved the long hallway overlooking the front yard that was filled with snowflakes.  The history, the pictures, the china, the furniture, the stories – it was all so incredible!  One of my favorite areas was seeing the different Christmas cards the Presidents have sent over the years.  Did you know that during the first year of Franklin D. Roosevelt’s presidency, the White House received so many Christmas cards that they had to hire a staff just to handle all the incoming mail – ha!


Happy Holidays!

Mrs. Minnesota International 2015

Kate Howe








Sunday, November 15, 2015

" Highland Friendship Club" By Kate Howe


I was invited to support the Highland Friendship Club at their annual Lanes for Friendship fundraising event.  The mission of the Highland Friendship Club is to serve individuals with disabilities from teens through adulthood by providing a range of opportunities to develop lifelong skills, friendships and connections within their community.  Joe Mauer and the Minnesota Twins have been huge supporters of the local organization.  I actually got to eat lunch with Joe – it was fun talking to him about his twin girls!


The members of the Highland Friendship Club stole my heart.  It was so much fun talking and bowling with them throughout the event.  Many of them have extremely supportive family members that were there to support them and the organization.  Highland Friendship Club provides countless activities and events for these individuals to participate in ranging from Yoga to Girls Night Out to Fitness Classes.  I absolutely loved hearing about how many of the members have become more confident and social after participating in the events Highland Friendship Club provides.  The best part was having two of the members help me bowl, since I am a horrible bowler!


The event was packed with local celebrities including Tim Mahoney.  I couldn’t help but tell him how my eyes watered during his performance at Target Center for the Tribute to Flip Saunders.  I even bowled next to Paul Monitor.  My Joey would have been in heaven with the room of Minnesota Twins and broadcasters.


One thing that never gets old is walking into a venue as Mrs. Minnesota International, not knowing one single person and walking out with new contacts, new friendships and an amazing new experience that leaves me on top of the world.  I am one lucky girl!


Loving Being Your 2015 Mrs. Minnesota International

Kate Howe















Monday, November 2, 2015

" I hit the road" by Lillie Imm

I hit the road and headed to a state with more shoreline than Florida, where the state motto is "Under God the People Rule”, it is the only state and capital in the U.S. that doesn't share any letters, and the home of the world's only Corn Palace, built with 3,500 bushels of ear corn….South Dakota! 

I had such a great time at the South Dakota International Pageant!  I was honored to be included in the pageant by singing The National Anthem. 

 I had a blast meeting sister queens, contestants, the judges, Miss Jessie Brower, Director of the pageant, her staff, and volunteers!  I really appreciate the support and encouragement I received from several of my sister queens and judges.  I really enjoyed hearing about their love of singing, their experiences and some of the exciting places they have performed and projects they are working on.  The International Pageant system is truly a wonderful group of women that I am grateful to be part of.  I would like to encourage my fellow ‘tween’ pageant friends to join this amazing sisterhood!  I am so glad I did! 

Have a wonderful day!

Lillie Imm, Miss Pre-teen Minnesota 2015



Sunday, November 1, 2015

" Having fun with Appearances" by Lillie Imm

I have had so much fun with appearances!  I have been on walks, in parades, volunteering, performing and attending events!  I have especially loved volunteering at the Special Olympics with my sister queen Nicole, The American Heart Association with my sister queen Alexis, the photo shoot with all of my sister queens with Miss Paula Preston,  the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon Memorial Day Service,  Project Bear Hugs with many of my friends and family and more.  I want to tell (and show) you about some of the amazing experiences I have had so far as Miss Pre-teen Minnesota.

The Special Olympics was a blast!  I had so much fun dressing up with the athletes and my sister queen Nicole for outrageous photos with tons of accessories- BIG sunglasses, beads, funny antennae headbands and hats!  I was honored to meet and visit with many of the athletes and learn about their rigorous training all year long and the dedication they have to the games.  Many of these athletes have committed several years to training and competing.  Their dedication and enthusiasm was inspiring!  I would love to volunteer again next year and hope to see some of the amazing people I met again.  Thank you, Special Olympics, for allowing me the privilege of being part of your Special week!

Project Bear Hugs is a foundation through Build-a-Bear Workshop.  My friend, Grace is an Ambassador for Project Bear Hugs and holds events at Build-a- Bear Workshop at the Mall of America twice a year.  My family and I have been supporting Grace’s mission for a few years and every event is a great time!  Build-a-Bear gives the Bear-istas : ) a discount on Teddy Bears and we get to pick out as many bears as we would like to donate.  Then we place a heart in the bear, stuff the bear and send the bear off with lots of love, good wishes and a prayer for the kids that are in need of some comfort.  Grace has sent thousands of bears to children in the USA and around the world including: a Guatemalan orphanage, preschoolers with disabilities, and kids living in disaster-stricken areas.  


Fun times!

Lillie Imm, Miss Pre-teen Minnesota International 2015




Wednesday, October 14, 2015

"Wow Nationals" by Kate Howe

Wow!!  Is the first word I think of when I think about my week in Florida.  The women were even more amazing then I could have imagined.  From doctors to entrepreneurs, all of these women had strong family values and a clear dedication to their platforms.  Each woman I talked to was more inspiring then the next.  Many of the women have been through dramatic events in their lives, such as cancer or death of a loved one that led them to their platforms.  The inspiring part was that they were willing to share their story with others to provide a positive impact.  Every time I think about the International Pageant System, my heart softens…the impact it can have on an individual’s life is priceless.


Crazy would be the next word I would use to describe my week!  It was extremely busy, but so much fun.  We arrived in Jacksonville on a Monday and didn’t leave until Sunday.  I think I slept about eight hours the entire week.  From makeup at four in the morning, to rehearsals, to midnight workouts, to keeping up on work (can’t forget about that), to my little men and extended family arriving to support me, the week flew by.  The International Pageant staff was extremely passionate and dedicated – thank you for making the week so wonderful!

The first night was orientation where we were able to meet everyone.  I instantly bonded with so many women.  The next day was sightseeing for most of the day and then rehearsals that evening.  One of the stops was to St. Augustine, which is the oldest continuously occupied European-established settlement in the U.S.  Of course we had to stop by the Fountain of Youth…I wish I had that in my house!  That was something that blew me away, there were women competing for Mrs. International who were in their 40s and 50s who looked incredible.  One of the best stories I heard during the week was an older contestant who said she entered the pageant to prove to her daughter that age doesn’t matter and you are never too old to chase your dreams. 

Thursday night was probably my favorite night of the entire week.  We had a black tie gala for the American Heart Association where each contestant donated a gift basket to be auctioned off.  Culture Girl, who donated the products in my gift basket, acts as a catalyst for women empowerment.  They use the boldest lipsticks to bring women of all cultures and backgrounds together and encourage women to speak up and out on causes they’re passionate about.  I showcased their Minnesota Collection with colors like Purple Rain and 10,000 Lakes.  The basket was a hit!  My favorite part of Thursday night was having my mom attend the gala with me all dressed up looking absolutely beautiful.

There are a million people to thank for this unique experience from people who sent good luck posts to the amazing coaches I worked with, to the directors who make all of this possible.  Nothing will ever beat having the unstoppable support of the people closest to you – thank you mom and Joey!  The judges choose an amazing woman to represent the Mrs. International System this year.  I am so excited to watch Farabe’s adventures this year!!

Loving being Mrs. Minnesota!

Mrs. Minnesota International 2015

Kate Howe







Thursday, September 24, 2015

" Hello September" by Nicole Doyle

My family is blessed enough to have a beautiful cabin on Tame Fish Lake, I was able to spend the beautiful weekend off of both school and work up north! We had a fun weekend of fishing (my Favorite part), boating, and some hard work too! I love having the opportunity to sit out on the boat and relax!


Look at this beautiful view!

It was a bit chilly along with windy outside, but I was able to bundle up and go catch some bass!


I enjoyed getting logs to split this fall for firewood next year. I like to prove girls are tough too; the oak logs are pretty heavy! Talk about a workout!


Its not bonfire without a wish lantern! My dad created the tradition of wish lanterns when we have bonfires. Everybody loves them!


Hope you had a wonderful weekend,


Nicole Doyle

Miss Teen Minnesota International 2015






Monday, September 21, 2015

"Nationals" By Nicole Doyle

Nationals in Jacksonville Florida was so much fun! I cannot believe the amount of amazing memories that I was able to bring home with me. Over the busy week the other contestants and I participated in fun activities, here is a summery of my week in Florida.


The first day was wonderful; I had such a blast meeting all of the girls and receiving official pageant handouts. While at orientation I found out my interview time along with finding out I was contestant number one! I also was able to meet the national tittle holders and the beautiful Mary Richardson.



A fun day of activities:

This was one of my favorite days at nationals, we were able to visit Sweet Pete’s, take a tour of Jacksonville, and make blankets for children in the hospital, and get a refresher on CPR thanks to the American Heart Association! Sweet Pete’s was my all time favorite; we learned how to make lollipops!



We finished the day with a Group Photo and Dinner.

Day 3 Interview:

Since I was contestant number one, I was up bright and early to get ready for interviews. (5AM in fact!) I unfortunately caught a flu bug, but was able to make it through interview and share about myself, and my platform “Kids Get Arthritis Too!” I absolutely love interview, it was my favorite part of competition even with me feeling “under the weather”. 


Day 4 Rehearsals and prelims:

This was a day packed full of practice, we learned our opening number as well as our walking patterns for Aerobic wear, Fun Fashion, and Evening Gown. It was a blast to finish the night with prelims. I had so much fun!


Day 5 Free day and Miss Prelims:

This was a day for the teens to sleep in and relax! I was happy to spend it with my family and finish the night with dinner and the Miss International Prelims.


Day 6 Finals: Rehearsals, rehearsals, and more rehearsals! I had so much fun at the final competition. I am so happy for Jules and look forward to following her throughout her reign!



Sending smiles your way,

Nicole Doyle

Miss Teen Minnesota International










Friday, September 18, 2015

"All American Sweetheart Pageant" By Kate Howe

So precious!!  I was asked to be a judge at the All American Sweetheart Pageant.  I couldn’t stop smiling for hours.  The girls were so sweet and charming!!  The directors started the pageant because their daughter was being bullied and they wanted an outlet where she could build self-confidence. 



One of the largest lasting impressions a pageant can have on an individual’s life is building self-confidence.  Competing in a pageant pushes yourself to new limits you didn’t even know existed.  You have to be vulnerable and allow yourself to be judged and criticized, while being incredibly self-confident in your own skin.  You learn to have poise, elegance and composure in front of large audiences.


The age group ranged from babies to pre-teens.  Yes – babies!!  They were so adorable dressed up in their outfits.  Some of the outfits were even hand-made with beautiful details and accessories – very impressive moms!  I loved that the pageant spotlighted a natural or glitz look.  Either look was very well received and place well in the pageant.  It is truly all about self-confidence and how your personality shines through.



Believe & Dream

Mrs. Minnesota International 2015

Kate Howe

Monday, September 7, 2015

"Nationals" By Alexis Adu-Bobi


          Where do I begin? Competing for the title of Miss International was such an honor. I am thankful to have had the opportunity to represent the beautiful state of Minnesota.


I was super excited to travel to Jacksonville. I had never been to Florida. The very first thing people told me about Florida was that the weather is very hot and humid. Hearing that was music to my ears. Anybody that knows me knows that I LOVE heat. I packed up and headed to the airport. Getting to Jacksonville was a lot of fun. The airport staff were so kind and made me feel like a celebrity. I talked to a lot of different people on the plane and at the airport. I met people from everywhere ranging from Tennessee to the Bahamas. It was great to see the heart God has for people.


When I arrived in Jacksonville and I stepped outside and felt a rush of warm air that literally sent chills down my spine, I couldn’t help but smile. Not only was the humid heat great but so were the people. A couple of people at the airport asked to take pictures. They were just as excited as I was!

When I arrived at the Omni Hotel I was amazed. The staff were so kind and very accommodating. I was also greeted by some of my sister queens Miss Alaska International and Miss Alabama International. After talking with them I felt right at home. One thing I will say about the International system is it is one big family. You are welcomed with open arms it is a strong sisterhood and that was something those two ladies showed. When I finally made it to my hotel room I was greeted by my sister queen Nicole. It was good to catch up with her. We knew we had a long week ahead of us so I settled in and made sure to get my beauty sleep.


The very first pageant event was contestant orientation. This is the very first time all of the state, region and country titleholders are together in one room.

After going over our itinerary for the week we played an icebreaker game. The room was filled with lots of laughs and it was great to see everybody’s personality shine through. I instantly knew this was where I belonged. 


One of my most memorable highlights was touring the beautiful city of Jacksonville. We first started off with a walking tour of the city. It was very interesting to learn about the city’s history. The part I enjoyed most of our walking tour was being able to check out the underground bank vaults. Afterward we were given the opportunity to make tie blankets for patients in the pediatric cardiac hospital. The work the American Heart Association does is truly amazing everyday they are providing awareness and resources to help save lives. It was an honor to play a part in bringing hope and joy to these young children. Next, we visited Sweet Pete’s candy store. I have a major sweet tooth so this was a dream come true for me. We had a front row seat to see how lollipops were made and we eventually made our own.  Last but certainly not least was the walking tour of the Jacksonville Jaguars Everbank stadium.  There we were able to see the stadium with the new score boards, training facilities, and my favorite the locker room. Inside the locker room they have every thing from ping pong tables to gaming systems. Needless to say, I was considering trying out for the team!  J


My absolute favorite part of the week in Jacksonville was visiting the PACE center. This really touched my heart because like many of these girls I came from a broken home. It was an honor to have the opportunity to meet so many of these young girls. The PACE center provides them with hope and shows them that their past does not determine their future.


Before I knew it I was getting ready for my personal interview. This was the moment I had worked hard for. This was my time to share my story and advocate for so many women and children who have currently lost their voice due to Domestic Violence. I will be honest I was very nervous until this very unexpected moment. Before my interview I had a dress malfunction. I went downstairs to the front desk to get a safety pin. As one of the staff went to look for one I was waiting, feeling the nerves starting to take over. I was looking down and as I looked up  I felt a rush of comfort but excitement. My sister queen Krista Wanous who is Miss International 2012 approached me with a big smile on her face. She could see how nervous I was. Her and her mother offered to pray for me. So there we were in the middle of the Omni hotel lobby saying a prayer. I remember my eyes filling up with tears from the peace and contentment I felt. God was with me and I knew he didn’t bring me this far to abandon me. I went into interview, as myself and I didn’t want it any other way. God is always there for us in the midst of chaos, you just need to remember to seek him. That moment with Krista and her mother showed me that and I will always cherish it.


Between rehearsals, interview, and appearances the week was going by so fast. Before I knew it I was watching my sister queen Nicole compete in her preliminary competition. She did such a fantastic job. I was so proud of her!


It was now time for the Miss International preliminary competition. I was so nervous but excited at the same time. I felt confident and beautiful in everything. I was unapologetically myself and I embraced the moment on stage. After prelims I felt a sense of peace. I did my best and everything was now in God’s hands.


Finals night had finally arrived. After opening number and introductions it was time to announce the top 15. As I waited my name was not called. Even though I did not make it into finals I was beyond proud of myself. What is for me won’t pass me. God was just telling me it wasn’t my time. When I think back it was more about the journey than the crown. I am somebody who has survived abuse, and homelessness and I did not allow what happened to me to define me. I stood proudly on that stage not only as your Miss Minnesota International but as Alexis Adu-Bobi.


Words cannot express how grateful I am to be able to share the year with my beautiful sister queens Lillie, Nicole, and Kate. You ladies are amazing and we have made Minnesota proud. I love you all! I want to thank my family and sponsors. Sarah Moses of the Pageant shop for helping me with my wardrobe. Sarah you are amazing and I am so thankful for you. My amazing coach Holly Ernst. Holly thank you for believing in me and my story. This journey has been so much fun with you! To my sister queens, Andrea, Jessica, Krista, Gabby, Charity, Rachel, and Megan. I want to thank each and every one of you for the support, everything from words of encouragement, to outfits. I am so grateful for all of your help. To my awesome director Allison, thank you for support throughout this year and the opportunity to be involved in this amazing system.


Again, thank you to everyone. For all of the love and support, I am proud to be a Minnesotan and your Miss Minnesota International 2015.


Peace & Love,


Miss Minnesota International


Alexis Adu-Bobi





" State Fair" by Kate Howe

The Great Minnesota Get Together!!  If you’re like 85% of the rest of the state you have been looking forward to the state fair for probably close to a month.  The cheese curds, the corn dogs, the concerts!!  I absolutely love the State Fair and we make it a tradition to go every year.  We even have a ‘circuit’ of food that we get…it always ends with everyone’s favorite Sweet Martha’s Cookies.  Lately, with the two boys, we like to go early before the crazy crowd sets in and hit up the Kidway.  This year we visited the pig barn to see the baby piglets!


During the State Fair, the parade is held daily at 2pm and features a high school marching band competition, floats and visiting royalty.  The International Pageant Queens were invited to ride the royalty float!  Lillie and I were the first ones there and were able to socialize with the other groups in the parade.  There were people who traveled from all over the state to attend the parade. 

Our float was to be pulled by of course…a tractor.  So fitting because the float next to us was a giant cow – lol!  Our driver, Lee, volunteers his time to drive the royalty float for the 12 days of the fair – so sweet!

There was a lot going that day with the protests happening and the actual parade was cancelled at the very last minute.  No one lost their spirit though and many of the participants still did their performances.  My boys loved the Native American dance and the marching band music.


Love Minnesota!

Mrs. Minnesota International 2015

Kate Howe