Has it really been over a week since I flew back from BlogHer Food? After months of planning and anticipation, the weekend came and went in a flash and I was left sleeping every chance I could for days on end after it was all over. The weekend itself was such a whirlwind! I literally stepped off the plane Thursday afternoon, hit the ground running, and didn’t get a break until my flight early Sunday morning. I was in food lover’s heaven – an entire weekend devoted to food! Talking about it, eating it, meeting other bloggers and companies that have everything to do with it, and learning every aspect of how to present it and talk about it better on my own blog. It was a foodie’s dream!
I had the best time in Austin, Texas. I’m so in love with that city and already have begun making plans with my family to all go together. It’s such a fun and eclectic city, and my experience with BlogHer Food completely reflected that. I had THE BEST roommates a girl could wish for, and we had a blast together. One of my roommates was Xenia (aka Raised by Culture). I’ve known Xenia for over 12 years, but we haven’t seen each other in over 10 years. This reunion was well overdue! We met at the airport since our flights arrived around the same time, and we also have another friend (Jessica) in Austin that picked us up and hung out with us at various times throughout the weekend. As soon as Xenia landed we were off for lunch at Chuy’s, which is an eclectic Tex-Mex restaurant that our friend Jessica has always raved about. Once we were done eating that delicious creamy jalapeno dip, we went to our hotel, checked in and freshened up to get ready for our volunteer training. The conference was held at the gorgeous Hilton Hotel in Austin, and our rooms were located there as well.When we were at the room our other roommate Ngoc (aka San Jose Food Blog) arrived. All three of us were volunteers, so we had met Ngoc online through the volunteer community and that’s when we prepared to room together. Ngoc is sweet, fun and focused, and since I am from San Jose and grew up there I had a lot of fun reminiscing with Ngoc about all the familiar places.
After our volunteer training on Thursday night, we attended three separate sponsored parties in downtown Austin. One was at the Whole Foods flagship store, another was at Malverde which is upstairs from La Condesa restaurant – this is where I got to meet Ree Drummond (aka The Pioneer Woman) and she was unbelievably sweet. I had no idea what to say to her, and she made me feel comfortable and we had a fun little chat. After that we headed over to our last party for the night at Parkside. Downtown Austin was so alive on a Thursday night, there was live music, people walking everywhere and of course food trucks abound. It was just an excitement in the air that I loved, and such a mix of everything.
Since I was attending the conference as a volunteer, this conference was also work for me. I was originally scheduled to liveblog two sessions, but last minute I picked up a third session. Since I was working as a liveblogger, after each session that I liveblogged I needed time to edit my work too before submitting, so aside from the sessions that I worked through I only attended one additional session. I really got a lot out of all the sessions I attended, and I love that BlogHer has the virtual conference site that we can go back and view the liveblogs to see what we may have missed from other sessions.
During my liveblog session on Friday I got to meet Joy (aka Joy the Baker) and Catherine McCord (aka Weelicious). Joy is so artsy and down to earth, and she really knows how to make everything romantic and beautiful looking. Catherine is helpful and insightful, it was crazy to meet her because she was the first real blog I followed before I even knew what a blog was! When I first started experimenting in the kitchen, it was inspired by Catherine and her outlook on food and family. It was amazing to be in their company and see these successful food bloggers share the secrets of their success. Friday night I attended an exclusive dinner at Springdale Farm, an urban farm. We met farmers that shared many of their stories with us and it was hosted by celebrity chef Daniel Boome. It was beautiful and such a memorable experience.
Saturday was the last day of the conference, and I only had one liveblog session that day. For lunch that day we had an offsite excursion and went to Mueller Hangar Park where a lot of food trucks serve their food. It’s like nothing I’ve experienced! The food trucks were fun, all of the food was so delicious, and it was a unique experience. I was also a 3 time winner throughout the conference! I won a basket of little treats and goodies from Wholesome Sweeteners, a breakfast sandwich maker from Hamilton Beach, and a years supply of coffee creamer from Bailey’s Coffee Creamers, where I also won a cookbook from Recipe Girl! That night I went to a wine and cheesecake cocktail party located in our hotel at Finn & Porter, and after was the big closing party at Stubb’s BBQ and they also had a fun photo-booth.
|Xenia, Jessica & I – Photo courtesy of Le Photo Booth Co.|
|Top row, left to right – Annabelle from Local Belle, Xenia from Raised by Culture, Jamie from C.R.A.F.T.
Bottom row left to right, me, Ngoc from San Jose Food Blog, and our local Austinite buddy Jessica.
Photo courtesy of Le Photo Booth Co.
I feel that I learned a lot throughout the weekend. This conference helped me learn about myself and how I represent my blog – which is my voice. I found that when I shared my story, and what brings me to blogging, it was very relateable. I learned many different tips and a variety of ways I can add little details to my blog and I definitely look forward to developing everything I learned into the changes I’d like to make here. I also discovered that I’m not as shy as I think I am. I guess all those years as a cocktail waitress paid off, and I’m able to fake away my shyness. Ha!
|Just a few of the amazing sponsors of this event!|
A big part of a conference like this is all the amazing companies that sponsor this sort of event. Throughout the conference, bloggers are able to meet and get to know the various companies and representatives. Many of the companies that were at BlogHer Food are brands that would be a food bloggers dream to work with. So many of them were eager to meet the bloggers and share with them about their brand. I came home with a suitcase full of amazing items that were given by these companies.
I also met some fascinating and diverse bloggers. When you’re in your own little bubble and corner of the blogosphere, sometimes you’re so consumed with perfecting your blog and sharing your voice that you tend to forget there’s such a large assortment of blogs out there. It was great to be able to talk with and learn the real life stories behind the many fascinating women (and men) behind those blog names.
|Ngoc & I were both livebloggers, this is us working after our sessions!
Photo courtesy of Xenia at Raised by Culture.
I came home with some very important lessons and insights, and tons of ideas. To be honest, I’ve been a little stuck when it comes to my own blog, because I really just want to redesign everything. This month I will be dedicating a lot of focus to a complete renovation! A large part of being a food blogger is your pictures. Another thing that has become tremendously frustrating is my photos. Since I tend to cook a lot at night, and the type of camera I have, I’m limited with my photos and they never come out how I’d like. It’s become increasingly frustrating for me. This conference had some awesome workshops on how to salvage bad photos as well as some tips and tricks on lighting. So I look forward to incorporating them into my posts until I get that camera I’ve been dreaming of.
|This is just a tiny sampling of all the amazing food I got to enjoy!|
I’d definitely recommend heading out to BlogHer Food next year if you blog and it in any way has to do with food. The friends you make, the tips you learn, and the connections you meet are worth it. I met new bloggers who had never been to a conference (like me) as well as seasoned professionals that had been to many. I think there was something there for everyone and the entire experience was more than I could have even dreamed. I’m so glad I not only attended, but was a part of the behind the scenes action as well! I also learned not to overpack, one pair of shoes will probably suffice. Bring clothes that are thin and don’t wrinkle easily, and also bug repellent. Just trust me!
This is just a few of my favorite photo moments from my weekend in Austin, and the rest you can find in my Facebook album which I’ll be adding to over the next few days. Unfortunately I didn’t take a lot of photos, but somehow still managed to have over 300 in my phone (the only camera I used). I was too busy eating to get a lot of photos of all the food, but I was able to capture a few! This is just a glimpse of my amazing experience!
I look forward to joining BlogHer Food next year as a volunteer if they’ll have me. I loved the experience!