I have to tell you all a little secret..
but promise you won’t tell a soul…
Duff is completely in love with me.
There I said it.
I mean look at that photo. Photos don’t lie folks. He must like his gals crazy. Which you all know crazy comes in spades here at the asylum.
Okay, so he isn’t in love with me, but we had fun decorating cakes together. My only regret is I forgot to bring my apron for him to sign. When I realized I had forgotten it in my room Duff said to bring it back down later. I mentioned buying a second one as a surprise for my daughter and he told me not to fret and just talk to the gals so I could grab another one and he’d sign both. Then I got insanely distracted for the rest of the day and forgot to do that. So I have my unsigned Duff apron hanging in my blog room. Next year I’m showing up with aprons in hand, one to sign for me and one to sign for mini-me. Such a big old bummer but hey, I got to learn from the master so I have absolutely nothing to complain about. Duff was great and I learned to work with fondant for the first time. I think he was impressed, or mildly freaked out, when I showed him my finished cake with “Duff Rocks” written on the top of it. Ya, not creepy AT ALL.
Mixed was an incredible conference held at the hotel where they shot Dirty Dancing many moons ago. It was hosted by Paula of Bell’alimento and Susan of She’s Becoming Doughmesstic. If you’ve never met either of these ladies you are missing out. They are warm, kind and generous of spirit. I was so impressed with each of them. Susan was a real sweetheart to me when I was considering going but was on the fence about travelling with my illness. She made it possible for me to tackle my fears of travelling after a family vacation gone bad. I am ever grateful to her for giving me the motivation to push past my limitations and put myself out there. Paula was equally impressive. She is such a warm soul and I was literally welcomed with open arms by her. She really makes you feel like you’ve known her your whole life. And let me just tell you this lady is funny as hell. Some of her one liners over the weekend were priceless. She has a real knack for public speaking.
I have to admit I almost didn’t go to Mixed. I was so concerned about travelling with IBS. I had not been on a plane in over 20 years. I’m not afraid to fly, but flying with IBS can be challenging. Doing anything with IBS can be challenging. I had a physical and emotional breakdown on a family trip a couple of months prior so I was quite concerned about doing this. But something inside me told me I needed to do it. I needed to step outside my comfort zone and test the waters again. Lots of people, family and friends, had been saying I should never travel again. That long trips would not be possible given my health issues. I’ll admit I was pretty convinced they were right. Yet I felt compelled to defy them and my illness. I’ll admit to something else since it’s a day of reveals. I have never travelled without my husband and kids. We just always travel together. Spare money is in limited supply at the Bee household so any trips have always been as a family or not at all. Just the way we’ve always rolled. So this was doubly challenging for me. Sometimes you just have to put yourself out there and try new things, test your boundaries and push your limits. This trip was me doing all of those things in one giant swoop. Luckily for me it went off without a hitch and I really did not have any major problems with my health while away. I’m super proud of myself for travelling solo. I’m also super stoked that I can travel without worrying I’ll have a mental breakdown. Well, more so than usual I suppose.
I had the great fortune to travel part way with the amazing Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake. We ended up on a connecting flight which was awesome since we had planned to rent a car together in Virginia. We both liked the idea of having our own wheels and not being stuck on the hooptie bus. So we got to gab like school girls for eons. Liz is exactly how you would picture her, skinny, smart and spectacular. I had so much fun hanging out with her. She is a complete treasure to have as a friend. I feel blessed to know her.
We met Kita of Pass the Sushi at the hotel. Kita is fall down funny. The girl had us in absolute stitches the whole weekend. She is witty and sassy, and just genuine as all get out. And not going to lie, the woman is gorgeous. I swear she has no idea how freaking pretty she is. I might be in a little in love with her. Don’t tell her though. We don’t want her to think I’m a stalker or anything. I mean we’ll save that whole stalker label for Duff right. Kita brought her step-mom with her. I was so touched by her desire to get to know what Kita does for a living. It made me wish my mom was around. That kind of connection is pretty amazing and I thought it was so sweet.
I also had the good fortune to meet Jenni of Pastry Chef Online. If you don’t know Jenni you need to get to know her. She is a freaking riot, sharp as can be. She’s hilarious and up for fun at any moment. She’s also insanely smart and her passion for food is contagious. I really enjoyed spending time with her and wish we lived closer. I could see us hanging out and cooking all the time if we lived near each other. I’m sure I’d learn more from her than she would from me. She’s wicked talented.
I met so many bloggers that weekend. Kirsten from Comfortably Domestic was a complete sweetheart. She lives across the border from me so we talked about meeting up in the spring for a foodie day. Americans have such cool foodie stores we don’t have here in Canada. Angie from Big Bear’s Wife was a pleasure to meet. We are in Sunday Supper together so that was fun to meet her. We were both at Food Blog Forum earlier in the year but had not met there. Also Brandie from Home Cooking Memories was there from Sunday Supper and she was so much fun to get to know. Brandie is incredibly friendly and kind. I met Chung-Ah from Damn Delicious who is cute as a button which I’m sure she doesn’t want to hear but it’s totally true. She is as sweet in person as she is on her blog. Heather from Basilmomma was an amazing lady to meet. I love her site and it’s one of those ones I get too intimidated to comment on. So I lurk. I’m a lurker. I know, it’s weird but she is so freaking awesome that I get all weird about it. She is however the nicest lady when you meet her and then you think what a dork you are for being intimidated by someone so warm and genuine. Well not you, but me. I need to stop that mindset. I get like that with a lot of the bigger bloggers. It’s like the whole Wayne and Garth skit where they drop down and say “we’re not worthy”. Not sure who Wayne and Garth are? Well then, you’re young and need to go google it. Seriously people, everyone should know this stuff.
I met too many bloggers to name them all. Let’s just say when you go to a blogging conference there’s so many people to meet that you will not meet them all. I swear I think they should have a meetup the first night of all conferences and have a sort of “speed dating” type event. We all sit down and once the time is up someone rings a bell and you move down one spot. That way you can put a face to each name and it makes it easier to seek out those people who you are dying to meet in person. Without that it can be daunting and you will never be able to meet every single person.
The conference had amazing sponsors who sent us home with swag that was wickedly amazing. Oxo was there and they always impress me, I wish they were Canadian friendly since this company is amazing. I would love to work with them at some point. They raised money for cancer while at the conference. As many of you know my dad died of cancer over 5 years ago. I took care of him for about 8 months while he fought the good fight. He wanted to be home through his battle so I was able to make that happen for him. It was the most heart wrenching but life changing experience of my life. So seeing a company give back to cancer the way Oxo does makes me all warm and fuzzy. They do good in this world and not all companies do. So make sure you remember that when you’re out shopping and see their products. I firmly believe in standing behind a company that gives back.
Kitchenaid was also there. They are so amazing, I mean who amongst us does not covet one of their wickedly cool mixers. They are also another company who I think does good things and I love that about them. Attune Foods was there. I’m not super familiar with their products, I don’t think we have them here in the cold white north. I’ll have to seek out their yummy products next time I shop state-side. Hershey’s was there and had a big presence all weekend. I swear every time I turned around there was more candy for us to munch on. And I’m not going to lie, I love candy and chocolate so I may have brought home an entire suitcase full of their stuff. I’m also going to be honest and say there’s only one piece left. Yup, I’m a fan. Dixie Crystals was there and I swear I used up all my sugar as soon as I got home. It’s freaking amazing. Dreamfields was there with some wicked good pasta. This is another brand we don’t have in Canada so Lizzy went and asked if I could scoff some noodles to bring home and try. I brought home two and am chomping at the bit to try them out. Wish I could find them locally. Real Butter was there, and well, you know me and butter. Way Better Snacks was also a huge presence at the conference. We had freaking chips waiting for us everywhere we went. I brought all mine home to Canada so we could crack them open while B-Dude was home. He loves snacks like that so I knew he would love them. I popped them in the freezer to keep them fresh. Did you know you can freeze chips? Seriously my MIL taught me that. Works beautifully. Le Creuset was another sponsor. Not going to lie to you but I was SO hoping to win a dutch oven. I am yearning for one in a big bad way. Unfortunately with hubs just returning to work I cannot afford one. I did splurge recently and bought one of their little tiny ones just so I could say I had my first Le Creuset. I know it’s sad, but it’s totally true. It’s red and I love it.
The sponsor to whom I am most grateful would be Boos. Here’s the back story to this one. Being Canadian means we don’t seem to have access to cool products. Being financially challenged for all these years while hubs went back to school also means Lunie doesn’t shop. I have not been in a home goods store in over 5 years. And that’s no joke. No home reno stores either. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve been to the mall or in a clothing store. And that’s only because I have kids who need clothes on occasion. So I’m pretty dialed out when it comes to wickedly cool products. I just don’t like to torture myself by looking so I don’t window shop online either. While at the conference everyone was super excited about Boos boards. I had no idea what a Boos board was. Since you all know I am wicked honest, I’ll just say I thought it was some kind of liquor serving tray or something. I had no idea, but I knew it must be awesome since folks were so excited about them. So as they were doing the raffle the last night myself, Lizzy and Kirsten were all standing near the stage gabbing and oohhing and aahhing over who was winning this or that. Paula said Boos was next and the crowd went wild. I turned to Kirsten and literally said “wth is a boos board” as Paula called my name. I was stunned to win, stunned to be asked if I could carry the 50 pound sucker home and if I would be able to get it through customs. I of course said yes to everything still not knowing what I’d won. I made my way to the back to see it. I had to have people point it out to me. Let’s just say my jaw hit the floor when I saw this thing of beauty. Omg it’s fabulous. And omg this thing weighs a freaking ton. Maybe a ton and a half. Let’s just say I had a hard time trying to get the airline to accept it as a “carry on”. And let’s just say I had a hard time “carrying” it around all day. But it was SO worth it. It’s a thing of beauty. I have it tucked away in my blog room. I need to read up how to treat it so I can do that over the holidays. It’s one of those things I would never be able to afford to buy for myself so it will be a treasured piece for years to come. So a huge thank you to Boos. I love your products and am now a loyal fan.
A huge thank you to all the wonderful speakers. We were lucky to have sessions with Bree of Baked Bree, Tami of Running with Tweezers, Denise and Lenny of Chez Us, Heidi of Foodie Crush, Marian of Sweetopia (shout out to my fellow Canuck!), and Duff of Charm City Cakes. They were all amazing. I have to admit I was super excited to meet Marian. Not only is she Canadian but she is just the sweetest lady. I left a comment on her site once saying I would love to make a certain cookie but my skills were sorely lacking. I was so thrilled to hear from her after. She sent me a note saying to let her know if I needed help. I mean who does that? She is an absolute delight and I might have begged her mercilessly to start teaching classes or workshops so I can drive up to her area and take them.
I am anxious to see what’s in store for Mixed next year. This was their first conference and I think they pulled it off beautifully. I really did have the time of my life. Hanging out with fellow foodies, learning from fellow foodies and being in the hotel where they shot Dirty Dancing. It was magical.
Did I forget to mention that B-Dude is named after Patrick Swayze. True story. Not his first name, B-Dude is original (bah), but his middle name. I was a Patrick fan from movies like The Outsiders and Red Dawn. So B-Dude was named after Patrick because I was young and didn’t realize you should not name your hooligans after movie stars. His other middle name is Shayne. Want to know where that came from? It’s also horribly embarrassing. It’s the middle name of one of the characters in S. E. Hinton’s The Outsiders. I’ll let you riddle out which one.
So there you have it. I had blast and am in love with Duff Stuff. I had never played with cake decorating before but now it’s becoming an addiction. So in honour of Duff Stuff and the fact that Christmas is coming and the fact that my fans are wicked awesome I’ve decided to hold a little giveaway. I was going to give you some Duff Stuff but I don’t want to give mine up. *grins*
So I’m going to do the next best thing. What’s the next best thing you ask?
I’m giving away a $40 gift card to Amazon to one lucky reader as a thank you for being awesome. If you live in Canada it will be for Amazon.ca and if you live in the US it will be from Amazon.com. So here’s the deets:
Leave a blog comment telling me what you would like to buy with your gift card. Easy peasy and Duff squeezey.
For EXTRA entries you can (but totally don’t have to):
Extra entry numero 1: Follow me by email, leave a separate comment saying you did so and your email addy so I can contact you if you win. (look to the right for it)
Extra entry numero 2: Follow me on Facebook, leave a separate comment saying you did so and what your FB handle is so I can stalk, er, verify you followed.
Extra entry numero 3: Follow me on Twitter, leave a separate comment saying you did so and what your twitter handle is so I can stalk, er, verify you followed.
Extra entry numero 4: Follow me on Pinterest, leave a separate comment saying you did so and what your pinterest handle is so I can stalk, er, verify you followed.
Extra entry numero 5: Follow me on G+, leave a separate comment saying you did so and what your G+ handle is so I can stalk, er, verify you followed.
Extra entry numero 6: Follow me on Stumble, leave a separate comment saying you did so and what your stumble handle is so I can stalk, er, verify you followed.
That’s it folks. Enter once if you like, or multiple times if you like. I’m even going to open this up and say you can enter once a day by leaving a new comment telling me something random each day. Just to keep it interesting tell me what you had for dinner each day. Or what colour pants you’re wearing. Or what colour pants you’re wearing while you ate dinner. Or what colour stain you got on your pants while eating dinner. Whatever your little heart desires. Tell me your hopes, dreams, secrets, or make up wicked lies about celebrities. Whatever floats your boat.
Giveaway open to US and Canadian residents only!
GIVEAWAY CLOSED! Winner is Susan Benton of 30A Eats. Congratulations Susan.
Winner will be drawn by random.org at midnight on Christmas Day. So you have till 11:59 on December 25 to enter. I will contact the winner on Boxing Day and they will have 48 hours to respond. If they do not another winner will be chosen.
Good luck to everyone and Happy Holidays from Lunie! I adore all my readers and appreciate you more than you know!
Tune in for a few more giveaways before Christmas. There will be at least one a day till the big day. Enjoy!
ps. I am so behind due to the hospital thing and tests so to the fudge winners, it’s all being shipped on December 27th. If I pop it in the mail now it will get hung up for a week due to the holidays. So I’m making fresh batches for you all (all 8 of you at this point!) on Boxing Day and shipping the day after. It’s coming from Canada so be patient. The cross border mailing system can be super slow. There’s also going to be a little “somethun somethun” in there as an apology for taking so long. You will LOVE it!
Toodles and Christmas smoochies! xx