Musical pairing – Suddenly I See by KT Tunstall

I’m here.  I made it. I’m alive.  I think.

The Professor and I took off last Thursday evening and headed to San Francisco to attend BlogHer Food 10 – the largest, most anticipated food blogging conference in the US (don’t really know if that’s fact as a whole, but for moi, it was indeed the most anticipated event of my entire year.)  It would be a very quick trip – one in which we would be on the ground less than 48 hours and then back on a plane, heading home to Indiana.  Was I outta my freakin’ mind?  Yes.  And no.

I’ll admit to having a significant amount of angst heading into the conference:  How do I compare?  Am I where I’m supposed to be at this juncture in my blogging career?  Do I really have the chops, the talent to be a blogger?  Or should I just stay home and throw in the towel. Can I lose 50lbs in two weeks? (actually spoken by ‘she-who-shall-remain-nameless’)  Will people like me?  Will I walk around all day with lipstick on my teeth and no one will tell me? The exact. same. feelings. most. bloggers. have.  Even seasoned bloggers (well, maybe not the lipstick part).

It helped that I had already attended Big Summer Potluck hosted by the fabulous women of Three Many Cooks and Ivory Hut; I had also attended the Atlanta Food Blog Forum conference hosted by friends Jaden, Todd & Diane and Gwen.  Both events allowed me the opportunity to meet and solidify a few relationships with people who were also coming to BlogHer Food.

That’s probably the biggest take-away from the conference overall – the need for community building, to build your own tribe, if you will.  And that will be harder to do unless you invest both time and money in some smaller gatherings throughout the year.  You can also use Twitter as a means to begin some of those relationships so you have an idea of who you want to meet up with when you do get to a conference.  BlogHer Food is terrific for the high-octane, fever-pitch energy of a great party.  But it’s also too large and too loud to really cement new relationships unless you skip sessions and find a quiet corner somewhere – at least that was true for me.

Another little tidbit:  I’m an introvert as is The Professor; we can be social and love a good party but the party can also be quite draining.  I need down time to clear my head and recharge; having a room onsite of the venue saved us, big time.  We were able to take short breaks, away from the din of the crowds.

Who did I meet?  Dorie Greenspan who literally jumped for joy and hugged me when I told her I’d already purchased her new book; Shauna James Ahern of Gluten Free Girl and the Chef, who spoke with me as if I were the only person in a room full of 300 others, Ree Drummond, aka Pioneer Woman who is truly, truly as real in person as she is on her blog, Cheryl Sternman Rule whose writing I’ve admired for quite some time; I found myself sitting next to Cheryl at several breakout sessions and we finally had the chance to chat during the closing party.  I met Heather, a young mother of twin girls, who leaves the sweetest comments on my blog – plus, she and her handsome husband have a special place in their hearts for Charleston (we do too!); I also met Lael Hazan whose down-to-earth, unpretentious spirit put me at ease moments after saying ‘hello’ and Susan whose blog I’ve read for almost a year and just love, love, love her – plus, she’s a professional jazz singer – did I mention that I love her?!  I also met the uber fabulous David Leite on the plane ride home; funny, entertaining and gracious – I hope there will be opportunities to get to know him better in the future.

And I shared a very fun limo ride with a certain group of ladiesyou know who you are (yes, what happens in San Francisco, stays in San Francisco)! What’s really funny is that until writing this post, I had no idea half of these women were in that limo with me – we were so slap-silly tired it somehow escaped me that these women, all of whom I communicate with on a regular basis (but had never met), were sharing a ride . . . ughhh . . . I am so bad in crowds!

Regrets:  Not nearly enough time to connect with people I really wanted to meet like Megan – I never ran into her anywhere during the conference but is someone I know I’d just love.  Or Jenny who I met long enough to give her a hug and promised to reconnect later during the conference; and I’m quite sad that never happened – I was really hoping for a picture of us together!  Or like Grace who recognized me as we were heading over to the closing party; I grabbed her hand and told her we’d meet once we arrived at the party but I lost track of her, looking everywhere but never saw her again.

I hope there will be other chances when I might have the good fortune to meet these wonderful women, my kindred spirits in this crazy world of blogging.  Each one of them have taken the time to come to my blog and read the words I write, leaving me words of encouragement.  I’ve been to their blogs and have caught a glimpse of their spirits.  The conference is about the connections, it’s really about the connections – probably more so than what you may or may not take away from the speakers.

Suddenly I see why the hell it means so much to me . . .


  1. Pingback: Don’t Forget the Homos! BlogHer Food 2010 & gluten free chocolate cupcakes w/ whipped cream cream cheese frosting

  2. OK, how funny. I had a limo ride with 13 bloggers and only knew a few people in the limo. Wouldn’t that be funny if we were in the same limo and didn’t even know it? Was it after the conference on Friday night to the La Petite Soiree? Maybe there was more then one limo ride? All I know is I was 3rd one in with Celiac Teen on my lap. Could we have been in the same limo?

  3. Loved your recap! I so wish I could have been there, but I have lived vicariously through you! 😉 I hope to attend next year to see everyone I have already met and those I hope to meet. I agree that this is much of the fun of the conferences and what leaves a lasting impression.

  4. Here’s my attempt to stay on top of it so I don’t miss out next year – meet me there at 5:00 PM in the bar the night before?! I’ll bring Mr. RGBistro, you bring The Professor? 🙂

    I so wish I could have gone, and feel that I indeed missed out. There are so many people I need, HAVE to meet. I just have to. Would you do it again next year?


  5. I agree with you – I like smaller gatherings, but that said, I would have loved to have gone to BlogHer Food10, especially if it meant I could have met you! Maybe next year!

  6. Deb, thank you for this recap of an event I would have *loved* to have attended. I love your outlook and that you packed so many gems of wisdom into this post. You are right – it *is* all about community and let’s not forget that 🙂

  7. Love this, and loved meeting the two of you. You were so kind, and this post was a perfect extension. You’re exactly right in saying that it’s all about the connections. Meeting people, hearing their stories and enjoying the company around all sorts of good food. And the limo rides! I’m not sure if I was in the same one as you (we only took it there, not back), but so many stories from those :).

  8. I’ve just loved reading everyones comments about the BlogHer Conference…, I’m so jealous I couldn’t be there with y’all. Glad you had such a wonderful time.

  9. Debra-your experience sounds a lot like mine at IFBC–the initial “first day of school” jitters, then the excitement of connecting with so many other bloggers. Sounds like a wonderful time!

  10. It was wonderful to meet you, even if it was so quick. It is so difficult when there is so much going on, so much to see and do, and so many people. I think you are so right when you say it is a bonus to attend a few smaller events throughout the year first to build some relationships. I too like you am an introvert, funny never used to be when I was in the working world but since being at home I find I’ve changed. I was lucky to meet and form a few friendships. My daughter joined me on the trip and we didn’t return home until Wednesday, San Francisco is beautiful, wish we had more time to enjoy all the sites. I don’t know how you did it, in and out, in 48 hours, you are both amazing! I didn’t get my ticket until 2 days before the event, what a whirlwind getting everything squared away to fly out. I feel like I missed so much in the blogging world while I was attending the conference, so much happens in a few short days, catching up and looking forward to reading all the posts I missed.

    All the best!

  11. Looks like you managed to make it through just fine 🙂

    I’m glad you guys had a good time, plus how nice to get away with the Professor too!

    Maybe one of these days I’ll be lucky enough to get myself to one of these things & meet you in person 🙂

  12. What a thoughtful and entertaining post. I wish I could have been there! I am also an introvert, so I can struggle during these events…I’m glad that you and the Prof were able to take little breaks. Wow! You got to meet so many amazing people…I’m jealous. And I must say that you totally deserve to be there with all these amazing bloggers…you are one woman that I admire greatly (your blog is one of my favorites!)

  13. I feel the same. I wanted more time to connect with people. So many great people so little time. Where are you in Indiana? I am just outside of Grand Rapids Mi. We need to plan a Mid-West food blogger hook up ;). Thanks for sharing your experience. Blessings, Sheila

  14. I just have 2 comments… really met Ree?? And who is that handsome man behind all the beautiful women : )

  15. Debra, I wish I could have been at BlogHer Food to connect with people I’ve met in real life or online. I completely agree that we all have the same insecurities…will people like me, am I good enough to be doing this, does what I say matter. And I hope that we all get to a point of believing in ourselves enough to stop asking those questions and instead ask, am I enjoying what I do.

  16. Yes, blogHer Food is about the connections. Whether it is a mind changing single phrase heard at a panel – or all the amazing folks you get to to connect with in the flesh. So sorry we did not meet this trip, but I am sure our paths will cross really soon 🙂 xo

  17. There’s my girls 🙂 You all look so lovely! I loved your re-cap and your photos darlin’, everyone’s different perspectives have given me a lot to think about. Thanks so much for sharing yours and the professors. HUGS

  18. SO nice to meet you Deb, and your hubs, too. Little bit here, and there – not enough time to get to know you two and so many others. Lots of the names you listed in this post I wanted to meet, too, but didn’t. I remember one time after a session just going back to the room to lay down. I missed out on a lot of the snacks and free stuff! LOL Bummer! Anyway, you and Rod were great. Happy to meet you!


  19. Loved reading your take on the conference. I was glad to hang out with my SF family as I call them, hang out with my roomies whom I see too little, hug many I had met at other conferences before and also my personal goal was to quality -meet at least 5 other bloggers and I did.

    I was happy to speak on a panel but not to tell people “this is what to do” but “I’m still figuring this out but this is what worked for me here and not there”.

    I also know that these events are not representative of who people really are all the time, because let’s face it, we all are a bit shy or feeling nervous which why your perspective appealed to me.

    If you are ever in Charleston, come build some more community in my backyard! The house is always open to good people!

  20. It was so great to meet you on Friday night! I looked for you the professor on Saturday but through all the people I couldn’t find you!

  21. You make me smile and cry at the same time!!! Just love you and the Professor!

  22. Boo Hoo Hoo Hoo…. I want to meet you. I want to connect with all those fantastic people and bloggers. When oh when will there be such a fabulous conference a bit closer to me?

  23. Loved reading your post! I’m an introvert as well, so I definitely understand the need for down time. Still, it looks like you had a lot of fun! Thanks for participating in the #BHF10PP, too…we all appreciated getting to live vicariously through you. 🙂

  24. What fun to meet all the bloggers! I’ve read some ups and downs about the conference…so glad you came away pleased with how it went.

  25. I’ve read quite a few posts about this conference and they have all stated how happy they were to have *made that connection* with people. Additionally they all felt as you, that there was not enough time to actually converse with as many as they wanted to.

    You are fortunate to have been able to attend the conferences that you have and I would have to agree with you that one should start out small and work their way up. For me, the smaller the better.

    There are so many fellow bloggers that I would love the opportunity to meet in person. All well and good when I can sit safely in front of my laptop and *tweet* and *blog comment* with them but take away my crutch and the thought of attending a large conference overwhelms me. I know I would be out of my element and have trouble conversing without a keyboard as my buffer!

    Thank you for posting your conference experiences. I enjoyed reading about them.

  26. What a great post Deb. I can’t believe you met Dorie Greenspan ( am waiting for my delivery of her new book), Lael, and all those other amazing people. You look so pretty.

  27. It was nice seeing you and the Professor. The conference was overwhelming. I wish we had time to sit down and enjoy a nice meal like our last meet up. I hope you will come to Utah soon so we can really catch up. I love your photos!!

  28. Deb – Yep, that’s exactly what it was like! Loved meeting you and The Professor, standing on a street corner miles from the hotel with no idea how to get back, feet hurting, laughing and tired. I’d do it again in a heartbeat despite the awkward and lost moments.

  29. I enjoyed reading your post so much! What a wonderful experience you must have had. I’m always surprised to find out that the people I look up to and that I think have it all together suffer from the same insecurities that I do. Thank you for sharing that of yourself as well.

  30. You have been so fortunate to attend the number of events you have…THREE! Amazing.

    Actually have had a BlogHer food sponsor contact me; saw one of my ‘kidding’ but not so sure I am anymore tweets about the SWFBC and wants to talk. Best way for me to get to one. Have it in my backyard; even if that actually ends up meaning a bit more than my ‘real’ backyard!

  31. I’m an introvert, too….so I really *want* to go to a blog conference, but it SCARES me half to death! So glad you blogged about it. 🙂

  32. Great post and perfect music to go along with it 🙂

  33. Fun post and great pictures! I’m glad you had a great time at the real deal and still had time to make great videos and have fun with us at the #BHF10PP. You’re quite the multi-tasker.

  34. Yay, so glad you had so much fun! Parties are ALWAYS like that – you mean to catch up with certain people and never manage to but there’s more fun for next time right? ^_^

  35. Aaaah yes, the limo ride will always be etched in my memory. It’s crazy how we only realized TODAY that we shared that experience together. This is a wonderful recap – I appreciate your honesty and trepidation. I agree – it was the personal connections we were able to make in the quiet moments that really stand out. xoxo

  36. One of my biggest regrets was not stopping to carve out time for my favorite people – like you and Rod. Definitely a lesson learned. Hopefully there will be a next time! Love you guys!

  37. What a beautiful post! And SO, so true!! I loved meeting the professor and getting the chance to spend more time with you!! The relationships, the *people* behind the blog are the magic of this community! I am so glad to have you as one of my kindred spirits! xo!

  38. Debra, I’m so glad I got the chance to meet you and the professor. You are both wonderful people and as nice as can be. You were a breath of fresh air! I really enjoyed speaking to you on Saturday afternoon after the last session too. I think we were both on the same page on many things. And like you, I was unsure walking into the conference and I have to say I walked away still a bit unsure. I’m still trying to absorb it and make sense of it all. I know one thing you are totally right about it being about making the connections and I’m so glad we got to connect.
    Great post Debra and I hope we can meet again.

  39. I’m so jealous that you met Dori Greenspan! What an amazing experience!

  40. What a weekend! What a limo ride! I am sad we did not get a picture together. We gotta rectify that.

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