Conference 101 with the Lunatic and a Giveaway!

When you go to Disney you must bring home Minnie ears for your puppy!

Hi folks.

Been crazy busy.

Doing stuff.

Really important stuff!


Catching up on Vampire Diaries…

Catching up on Bethenny Ever After…

Catching up on The Real Housewives of Orange County…

And most importantly…

Catching up on movie trailers on ITunes.

Cuz I was REALLY behind.

And that’s just not cool!

Okay so all this happened cuz my tummy still hasn’t recovered from whatever mysterious illness hit me after our trip to Orlando. I’m still having problems and pain. So I took matters into my own hands, albeit after watching 2 weeks worth of movies and tv, and made a doctor’s appointment. Yah me! See…doing stuff…important stuff.

So I promised the last installment of the Food Blog Forum Orlando Conference. Today you are getting it. I mean I may be sick and visually impaired from all my tv and internet antics, but I would never let you guys down. Now keep in mind my camera had some kind of extreme meltdown on this trip so the pics are not up to their usual crappy standards. This time they are extra crappy. You’re welcome.

Also you should know I barely took any photos at the conference events. Most people had the sense to snap pics of all the gorgeous food, and pics with fellow bloggers. I had more important things to do, like looking like Bambi standing in the headlights all weekend. I mean priorities people. Someone had to play the role of doofus first timer, and I was perfect for the part.

I’ll admit I was also in full note taking mode so the camera just got lost in the shuffle. Not literally, I mean I did try to lose it repeatedly and people kept handing it back to me. Once I even “accidentily” dropped it in the path of an oncoming Disney mover and someone saved it for me. I had my speech all ready for the insurance company and everything. “I don’t know what happened Mr Hunky Insurance Man, I loved that camera, I turned around for one second and it was in a million pieces, I am so heartbroken. Hold me!’ See I am nothing if not well prepared.

Okay so on with conference talk. This is Conference 101 with me, your loyal Lunatic. I shall give you snippets of what I learned at this amazing event. I think we all take away different things from these types of things so hopefully what I took away helps you in some small way.

Day One:

We met at the lovely Grand Floridian for a meet and greet. I did not take one photo. I did however learn a couple of things.

1- You should stop at the hotel you are staying at to freshen up cuz you’re gonna be hugging folks. Two days of road trip cannot make a good first impression.

2- Ann from Cooking Healthy For Me is made of awesome and exactly like you would imagine her. (Update: Ann is sadly no longer blogging, but we still chat all the time)

3- Kristen from Frugal Antics of a Harried Homemaker is also made of awesome and way funnier in person. How that’s possible I do not know. But she just is. Kristen made me some of her lovely turtle buns and I cannot thank her enough. They were beyond delicious.

4- Jaden from Steamy Kitchen is the most fabulous lady on the face of the planet. She was so sweet to me and seemed just as excited to meet me as I was to meet her. I kept my word and immediately burst into tears upon meeting her. Someone out there took photos of us and I need to track them down. It was hard to see through the tears.

5- I should sample the food at these types of things. I was so worried about my tummy I did not eat a thing. Silly.

Day Two: Here’s where it gets serious folks!

The conference was held at Epcot. I showed up late due to the fact that my park hopper pass mysteriously disappeared and I had to embarrass myself fully by having Ann track down another one by my one and only idol, Jaden. Yup, I make an awesome first impression then blow it with silliness. I blame the family for touching my stuff I distinctly told them not to touch. Thank goodness I love them. Or someone was getting put in a head lock for sure.

So the conference began and I got serious! I’ll give you a few of the highlights I took away from each session.

Photography & Styling: Sharing Your Food Story Through Your Creative Voice with Diane Cu and Todd Porter

“Your eyes are your lens, Your heart is the shutter.”

Manage the light and make it work for you.

Use sheer curtains to diffuse the light.

Don’t over-use props, keep things simple.

Don’t focus so much on the details, how does the photo make you FEEL?

PRsectives with Thomas Smith, Jaden Hair, Rachel Barbarotta and Arianna Bastianni

Jaden says:

Don’t be afraid to say no.

Treat your blog like a business.

Use a 1 pager with photo and info.

Rachel from KitchenAid says:

Authenticity is the most important thing.

Be passionate about the brand.

Don’t be afraid to show your style.

Arianna from OXO says:

Do what makes sense for your blog.

They want content that is exciting.

They look for who’s talking about them.

Thomas from Disney says:

Use social media.

They look for value.

People connect with people.

How to Write Bigger, Better, More Badass Food Posts with David Leite

Go to your natural inclination when writing.

If you can take yourself out of the story and it stands up you do not belong there.

Make a decision how much you want to reveal and be consistent with that.

Tell the story of your life through food.

Listen to your food to get your verbs. (Literally!)

From Hobby to Professional: Taking Your Blog to the Next Level with Dawn Viola

Reach out through twitter.

Put out great content at least once a week.

Use your blog as practice.

Use your blog as a professional writing platform.

Find a way to develop your voice(s): blog voice/AP voice/ Publication voice/ Adaptable voice

Scott Hair’s Tips throughout the day:

Know what you want, be specific about your goals.

Write down the steps to get to your goal.

Move forward if those steps are successful, step back and rethink if they are not.

You need to make constant adjustments to get to your goal.

My Round Table Selections:

Writing Bigger, Better, More Badass Posts with David Leite

This round table conversation was amazing. I decided to come out of my shell and ask a question. Mine was how do you write G rated when you don’t live that way, is that being unauthentic? David was great about it, told me it was a great question. I have to admit I was so stunned by his excited reaction the first few sentences were lost on me as I put my pen down and just stared at the man talking to us. He is so amazing and engaging. He talked about making sure you are being who you are, being careful how you integrate the people of your life into the stories you tell and revealing without giving up too much of yourself. How and where to draw that line. He also told us not to just repost a recipe if you haven’t changed anything about it, then you should just redirect the readers to the site you got the recipe from. I was pretty mesmerized by David I must admit.  Some tips for you from David’s round table are:

Read good writers.

SEO- do flat so it’s searchable.

Your title can be fun and whimsical but not your SEO.

David’s round table made a huge impact on me and I am still pondering some of the information he gave us. He made a lasting impression with everything he had to share. I was able to ask for his signature at the end. I told him about my son being in school for writing so we got to chat a bit. My only regret was not chatting him up at lunch in private. I think he would be so fun to talk to.

Basic Photo Editing and File Management with Todd Porter

Todd is a very genuine person. He talked to us about photography and editing. He pulled out his laptop and showed us how he does things which was cool to see it and not just hear it. Makes more impact that way. He showed us how he sorts his files and what parts of lightroom he uses. I do not have lightroom so it was a bit over my head but I took notes knowing I was going to get a copy soon. Some tips for you from Todd’s round table are:

When importing you should organize the files right away and use key words if you are a fan of those.

Use a food folder, then break them down more almost like a cookbook. He recommended 50 file max for the sub-groups.

He likes lightroom.

Shooting in raw is better.


I actually got up the nerve to go talk to Todd and Diane at the end of the conference. Diane got pulled away into another conversation at some point so I got some advice on photography from Todd. It was great. We talked about light, and cameras. I told him I want to buy a new one so he gave some advice. I was happy I was able to put my shyness aside and approach them. They are remarkable people. I told them I was telling my hubs about the look of horror on both their faces when I told them what kind of camera I was using. I am going to score a new camera one way or another.

Pitch Therapy with Jaden Hair

Okay so excuse me while I squee a little bit. I was not actually signed up for this round table. I was late to the meet and greet so my friends signed me up for 4, Jaden’s was not one of them. So the day of the conference when I realized I wasn’t in her group, I actually got brave and just went up to Jaden before it started (she was sitting by herself for a moment, tweeting I believe). So I took a deep breath, sat next to her, told her what happened and asked if I could I sit in. She kindly took pity on me, essentially knowing I would probably burst into tears again if she said no. So I got to sit right next to my idol and get advice from her. Yup, pretty awesome day I must say.

This round table made the biggest impact on me as it made me realize I had not really thought about my blog or myself as a business. Nor did I emulate confidence. When Jaden went around the table to ask who we were were and what we wanted to ask her I got flustered. I was able to say who I was and where I blogged but I hadn’t really thought through what I wanted out of this round table. By the time she came back to me I was ready. From there I was fully engaged and taking in every word. I knew what she had to say would change things for me. Some tips for you from Jaden’s round table are:

You are the publisher of a website.

Know your worth.

Separate yourself. You are not selling yourself, you are selling your website.

This was like an ah-ha moment for me. That last statement hit me big time. I had always had trouble trying to find that balance from going from being an at home mom to a mom who works. I do not network well, nor do I sell myself well. So this hit home big time for me. I was able to wrap my head around promotion for the first time.

Jaden also told us to dream big. One person said they had accomplished all the goals in a short period of time, Jaden told that person they had not dreamt big enough. It was another ah-ha moment. Dreams and goals can change and evolve. Never stop going for what you want. Share it with others, make it happen. This lady is a dynamo. In a short period of time she was able to get me thinking about the big picture. She was also able to get me to be confident. Later that day I approached Todd and Diane to talk. I was able to go up to Rachel from KitchenAid and introduce myself and give her a business card. For me this is huge. That night I went to the fireworks solo and introduced myself to some people I hadn’t met so I sat and gabbed. Also huge for me. The next day at brunch I was able to talk with Jaden, also with Scott, to joke with Todd about my camera. After getting home I’ve been able to start conversations with blog owners I would have normally deemed “too big” to comment on. It’s opened the door to new conversations and friendships. So a huge thank you to Jaden who rocked my world that day.

Photography & Styling Live Demonstration with Diane Cu and Aran Goyoaga

This was a very cool demo. Aran from Cannelle et Vanille styled food for us. Then Diane shot some photos. So we got to see how to style the plate. How the process went from the plate to the photo. Aran is a genius with food. She has such a natural talent and eye. She worked with fresh veggies and fruit. She showed us how to drop some liquid onto the plate. How to add sprigs to finalize a dish. Then they had someone hold the plate. Her and Diane worked together to show the plate in the best possible way. How to tilt it slightly forward for the shot. How to shoot slightly off to the side instead of the middle of the person. They showed how the light changes and moves. How to bounce the light and position yourself and the subject. They both told us they shoot in small spaces. That bit of information hit home for me. If these two rock stars can get great photos from a tiny corner of an office or by pushing a bed out of the way in a tiny room for a shot, then why should I struggle so much. Don’t stress over how much light is in the room you want to shoot in but go looking around the house for the best natural light. It was so simple. Some tips for your from Diane and Aran’s round table are:

Keep moving around.

Tilting a plate can make all the difference.

Use reflectors if needed.

Final Comments from Jaden, Scott, Diana and Todd:

Stay creative!

Be inspired!

Surround yourself with passionate people!

Dream big and tell people your dreams!

Be confident!

I would like to take a minute to thank Julie from The Little Kitchen who convinced me to take my IBS by the horns and go to this conference. I was really on the fence till talking to her. Thanks for giving me the push I needed Julie. It was life changing and you are a huge part of that. Thanks from the bottom of my heart for everything you did for me and for the conference.

Also a huge thank you to Jaden from Steamy Kitchen. You are the reason I went and you not only lived up to how nice you seem on your site but your surpassed my expectations. I went to meet you and learn from you. I got way more than I bargained for. I came away changed by you. So thank you for that and being so sweet. It meant the world to me.

I also want to thank Diane and Todd from White on Rice Couple. The stories you told through your words and photos in the opening presentation set the tone for the whole day. You not only talk about inspiration but you inspire those around you. I am so glad I got to meet you both and learn from you.

I’d like to share some photos with you now. Hope you enjoy them. You will be convinced Jaden should have run in the other direction when you see my crazy eyes.

Food Blog Forum Conference


Lunch venue hosted by Disney


Beautiful space to have lunch!


Fireworks at Epcot!


Brunch at Whole Foods!

These are horribly embarrassing shots but I am sharing them anyway!


Scott and Julie!


You can make out hubs and B-Dude gabbing!


Things to remember the trip by!


Some swag!


Some loot from Whole Foods I picked up before leaving!


Some kitchen items I just had to have from Disney!


Malia actually let us take photos with the ears!


I think we broke her spirit! Or she’s depressed cuz she can’t see and needs to go to the groomer very badly!

Okay so that wraps up my Disney adventure. You must know I could not go all that way and not come home without something for you all. You also know I have a tight budget so it’s something small but totally adorable. And no it’s not Malia in her cute little Minnie Mouse ears. One lucky reader gets to win this:

Yes indeedy, I brought home a Minnie Mouse apron just for you. I know the pic is horrible but I told ya, I need a new camera desperately. All you have to do to enter is leave a comment. You can keep it for yourself or give it to someone you love. Or you could make your puppy wear it. Whatever works for you.

For extra chances to win do any or all of these. Leave a separate comment for each one to make the draw easier. Here’s your choices:

1. Follow the blog by RSS, see the blue button up at the top of the blog, just give that a click.

2. Follow by email, look off to the right, scroll a little and you will see a subscribe by email box. Just fill that out with your email, then confirm it.

3. Follow me on twitter. That’s the orange button at the top with the T on it. Just click on it.

4. Follow me on facebook. That’s the green button with the F on it. Just click it.

5. Follow me on google plus. That’s the pink button with the G+ on it. Just give it a click.

6. You can tweet about the giveaway. Just make sure you mention @CravingsLunatic so I know you did it.

Contest runs until midnight April 11th. Open to anyone and everyone! Good Luck! You will have 72 hours to claim the prize or it will be drawn over. Draw will be held by Have fun!

I sure hope you enjoyed this wrap up of our Disney adventures. You can read about our road trip to Disney and also about our Disney Park Fun.

Thank you to Food Blog Forum, Walt Disney World, KitchenAid, Whole Foods Market, OXO, Le Creuset, Land O Lakes, Scharffen Berger, GooGoo Clusters, Bob’s Red Mill, Edgeware, Kissimmee Florida, Downtown Food and Wine Fest, Spice Islands and King Arthur Flour (we should talk, you need to expand into Canada!)!

Toodles and smoochies! xx

PS. Recipes return later today. Wait till you see what I did for the Burwell challenge. Very cool indeed. I realize recipes have been lacking the last couple of weeks so I shall try to make it up to you with all kind of decadent treats!


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  1. Judith Bemis says

    thanks for the review of the conference you came down to Orlando for. Sorry I did not get to meet up with you to talk about cooking and horses, two loves of mine as well.

    • Kim Bee says

      Judith I may come back solo sometime this year. If I do maybe I can convince you to come down for some lunch or dinner. There’s tons of conferences in Florida. So we’ll see how broke I am after the one in Seattle. Lol!

  2. says

    I love it! Since i live SO close to Disney, I’m going to put one entry in! You know I follow you everywhere I can possibly follow! Y.O.U are made of awesome, girlfriend! I have a pic of you & Jaden on my iPhone. I’ll download it and shoot it to you…

  3. says

    I love the download! I went to the BlogHer conference last year, loved these one sentence go-get it-do it type of encouragements! I am glad you went.

    • Kim Bee says

      Thanks. I swear I lose my mind in social settings. I had so much fun and the endless silliness just makes me, well, me. Lol!

  4. says

    Hey Kim, No I don’t need the giveaway (unless it’s Malia) but I wanted to say thanks for the great recap. I feel like I learned a lot just from your post about this amazing conference. Maybe someday… :)

    • Kim Bee says

      Oh you want Malia, we might be able to work something out. *giggles* You must try to get to one. It’s so much fun and just a wealth of knowledge. Plus there’s food, so it’s like summer camp for foodies.

  5. says

    Oh, what a fabulous post, Kim…just a wealth of information. How I wish I could have joined you….such an amazing conference! And I love that Malia scored some Mini ears!!! You are adorable, my friend!!!

    • Kim Bee says

      Thanks Liz. We had fun, learned some stuff then got to come home and torture the poor puppy. Fun had by all, except maybe Malia.

  6. says

    I loved hearing about your conference! Theres some really great tips I’m going to steal :) That sounds like so much fun to be able to talk to other bloggers face to face and hear about their lives! And the little minnie apron is too cute!

    • Kim Bee says

      Steal away. I think that’s what I love about Food Blog Forum, they all just want to share and play nice. It’s so refreshing. You should go next year. Would be fun to meet you. Isn’t it sweet. Had to pick it up.

    • Kim Bee says

      Thanks Stephanie. And you are so sweet. I wish I lived close to Disney. Of course it would mean nothing would ever get done. But I’d sure have fun

  7. says

    Kim this post was so awesome! I’m going to go read it again so I can try to absorb all of the excellent information you shared so generously with us! I’m totally jealous and I’m determined to make it to a conference at some point – maybe we’ll be able to meet in person someday too. I’m so happy for you and I look forward to more great things for you and your blog soon! Maybe a free new camera if the right people were reading! 😉

    • Kim Bee says

      Mellissa you should think about Blogher Food this year. I am dying to go. We could be roomies.

      Oh man a free camera would rock my world. I keep entering contests but never win. It’s amazing how many I cannot enter due to living in Canada too. Burns me up. I am going to have to pull the trigger soon. Mine just does not have the settings to get it less grainy. It’s sending me over the edge.

      • says

        Oh Kim, me and you as roomies would be waaaayyy too much awesomeness and hilarity in one room! We’d probably get banned from the hotel which would be embarrassing and of course I’d blame you for the whole thing because you are obviously a bad influence! (snickers loudly) I can see it now…you on your bed eating turtles or chocolate covered popcorn or some other delicious thing you’re always torturing me with on here and me on my low carb diet trying to be good and finally just leaping across from my bed, grabbing all your stuff and locking myself in our bathroom until it was all gone with you pounding on the door yelling “give me back my turtles!!!” and then security would arrive…. tee hee…. Let’s do it! :)

        • Kim Bee says

          I love a gal with a plan. I am totally in!!! I’ll just bring a whole suitcase full of turtles just in case you crack! xx

          • says

            You’re on! But if you snore I might smother you with a pillow and then plead temporary insanity as a defense! Zero patience for snoring (other than my own), totally hypocritical I know – I’m not proud of it but there it is…. 😉

    • Kim Bee says

      You are most welcome. I love to share. I may do another one when I have time to sit and go over my notes more. Aren’t they cute. She was so good about it. Which was shocking.

  8. says

    What a phenomenal experience! It sounds amazing. Thank you for sharing all the blogging wisdom and tips. I appreciate it so much.

    • Kim Bee says

      Thanks! You should totally go to one. I am super nervous about blogher food. This one was easy as I knew I’d be hanging with Ann and Kristen. So it took some pressure off. Plus I had my family to keep me calm (and lose my stuff) so that helped. Next one it’ll be me solo all stressed out. Like the first day of high school walking in all by yourself. Ugh!

    • Kim Bee says

      There was so much info, this doesn’t even crack the surface. You’ll have to come next year. Would be fun to meet you. Oh that missing ticket almost did me in. I now have it in my agenda as a reminder never to trust my family. *lol*

    • Kim Bee says

      You are most welcome. There is so much more too. I’d love to meet you at one of these conferences. Any plans to go to any? Aren’t they cute.

  9. says

    Thanks for the recap of the conference. I really wanted to go but plane tickets were just too expensive in my budget. But your thorough post made it seem like I was there!

    Thanks for the awesome giveaway. You rock! And your dog is adorable :)

    • Kim Bee says

      Oh my they really are pricey. For just me to go it was going to cost the same as gas for all 4 of us to go. It still cost a good buck gas wise but so glad we made it work. Hopefully you can next time. Would love to meet you.

      Good luck. Thanks. And she is but she is also really, really bad!

  10. says

    Wonderful review of the conference. It sounds like a very memorable experience for you. It’s always nice to meet someone you look up to and they meet or surpass your expectations. I’m already following you on everything!

    • Kim Bee says

      I was so happy that all the speakers were so kind and generous. It was so amazing. I about passed out when I met Jaden. She is really sweet.


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