Thanks to The Mod Chik Lindsey Garrett for this photo!
BlogHer ’11 in San Diego completely blew me away and exceeded any expectations I had about what I’d take away from the conference. I’d gone in hoping to meet some new bloggers, catch up with local blogger friends and learn a thing or two about how to improve my blog.
With Mary of The Mama Mary Show
I learned so much more.
I learned that the power of a group is intoxicating, that tears of joy and pride can be had when you become a part of something bigger than yourself, bigger than life, really.
When Mary over at the Mama Mary Show tweeted one night asking me if I could dance, I replied back, “Um, sure,” thinking she was talking about a local dance class she takes with some local bloggers. Then I got a high priority email: “I am organizing a TOP SECRET flash mob to happen at lunch on Friday. LMK if you’re up for it.” Oh, yeah, baby! After just a few live rehearsals and countless views of the routine on the Flash Mob’s private Facebook page, I was ready. In fact, I was even promoted from the chorus to – gasp! – the opening dance team (you’ll see me on the video in the bright red-orange shirt). That’s Theresa of Rock On Mommies in front – the girl has the moves!
Get this video and more from Mama Mary on YouTube
Along with my friend and fellow San Diego food blogger Kathy of Panini Happy, I learned how to cook the perfect risotto. The secret? Gently, but constantly, stirring the rice as it simmers with a rubber spatula, not a wooden spoon. This from a man who is so cool, he had a shiny black Escalade waiting outside the San Diego Convention Center for two days straight; a man born with an Italian mama and a wit only the British can achieve; a man who by his early thirties was the youngest chef to garner three Michelin stars in London. I’m talking about the fantastic Marco Pierre White, who made a challenging dish like risotto seem like mere child’s play. I also got to cook with Israeli-born Chef Einav Gefen who happily indulged my obsession with Israeli cooking and promised to email me her favorite cookbooks and recipes. Thank you to Knorr for providing the opportunity to cook alongside these international master chefs!
With Chef Marco Pierre White
I learned that content is queen from none other than Ree Drummond, the charming and funny Pioneer Woman. Any woman who shares a picture of her husband’s rear in Wranglers is a woman I want to know. From Kathryn Finney, the gorgeous, outspoken hostess of The Budget Fashionista (my favorite fashion blog, the woman is no stranger to frugality and high fashion alike) taught us that you don’t have to say yes to every opportunity that comes your way; there’s power in saying no and sticking to what works with your mission statement. If you want to read my super raw notes from this amazing session, click here. (Full disclosure: I took typing in seventh grade and am acutally quite the typist, but that doesn’t mean spellcheck can always recognize my typing equivalent of chicken scratch. Please note I’m not usually so partial to typos!)
With Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman
I learned how to see the world in a new light. The brains behind BlogHer knew the food bloggers would be out in force, and for those of us not lucky enough to attend BlogHer Food in Atlanta, there was plenty of food-related content. Penny De Los Santos was there, and after viewing part of her CreativeLIVE photography session, I knew I would rush the stage if need be to get a seat at her table. Listening to Penny talk was inspiring and made me reexamine how I view my photography. For years, I’ve heard professional photographers say “make a picture.” As a 35+ year hobbyist, I “take pictures.” What’s the difference? It’s all in how you see the image. As Penny herself said, “You are really thinking about what you are seeing, how you are seeing it, and you begin to frame it, and implement all of those ideas into this one 125th of a second moment.” You can read the transcript of Penny’s session here.
With Kathryn Finney, The Budget Fashionita
With Kathy of Panini Happy
With Lori of Recipe Girl
Here, away from the hustle and bustle of BlogHer, was the opportunity I’d been waiting for to connect with food bloggers and get to know them beyond Twitter. The food was fantastic, too, and if you follow me on Instagram, you’ll know I went a bit overboard with the photos! BiCE Executive Chef Mario Cassineri was charming and welcoming, and served a barley risotto with lobster that was a food highlight (risotto, risotto…notice a theme here?).
With local bloggers Marie of Meandering Eats & Amanda of The Cilantropist
Back home, I learned how much I missed the daily miscellaneous of family life. I welcomed the hugs that came from Little Gonzo Girl after three days away, and Mr. Gonzo whipped up a family favorite on Saturday night like it was no big deal after playing Mr. Mom for three days straight. My feet ached from the unfamiliarity of wearing heels, and my shoulders begged relief after hauling around bags of swag generously donated to all the attendees.
Sitting here in my office, quiet again with my dogs and the marine layer blanketing the coast, I kind of miss the chaos of the conference. There’s an empty spot on my wall that later today, thanks to Costco, will hold this photo, a reminder that bucket lists are meant to be made and mastered.