I wish I could show you how much fun Disney was. I wish I could show you all kinds of photos of me hanging with my blogging buddies. I wish I had all those photos to share with you. But….we forgot the memory card was not in the camera so there’s no actual photos to share. I know right.
So be forewarned if you have a DSLR there’s no internal memory on it so you need to format your camera so this does not happen to you. Want to know how?
On your camera, find the menu button, hit that. You need to scroll over until you find the thing that says “Release Shutter Without Card”, press that. Now click on disable. Hit that button really freaking hard. Voila you will never have the same thing happen to you that happened to me.
See, I’m a giver.
Always helping others.
Okay on with the conference stuff.
We drove from Ontario, Canada to Orlando, Florida. It took 2 days, 2 cases of pepsi, 2 cases of water, a boatload of snacks, ten thousand rest room stops and about 200 imodium to get there. Yah, I have IBS, and I travel. It’s fun.
We arrived the night before and camped out near Disney. We wandered around and giggled at lizards, grabbed some food nearby and went swimming that first day. I didn’t bring a suit so I swam in my clothes. I figure I’ll never see these people again. It was late so what the heck. We hit the hot tub too which I never wanted to leave. B-Dude arrived late that night by plane so hubs picked him up while I pretended to sleep. Like I could sleep with B-Dude arriving. I miss him, so I got up for hugs and a quick chat.
The next morning we set off for The Grand Floridian. Can I just say holy mother of hotels people. This place is fabulous. And far too fancy for the likes of the B family. We settled in quickly and hit the park for a bit before I had to get in conference mode.
That first night we had a meet and greet. It was a quick intro with some food and drinks. We had an hour to schmooze and network. It was so much fun to see everyone. I got to see old friends, and meet new ones. Sheer perfection.
That night we hit the park again for a bit and brought Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake along. She got to see my kids act like fools and go on rides with us. She also had the distinct pleasure of seeing how much candy floss I could shove in my face before the kids stole it. Awesome!
The next day we were up bright and early. The family hit the park while I spent the day at the conference sessions. If you’ve never been to a food conference before here’s some tips:
Get lots of rest.
Buckle up, you’re going to be given a ton of information in a short span of time. So pay attention.
Make the most of the breaks, but always use the potty first. Otherwise people are talking to you and your eyes sort of glaze over while you try to focus.
Take lots of photos, with a memory card IN your camera.
Talk to as many folks as you can and just be YOU. People love you. That’s why they read you.
Here’s a quick sampling of some things we learned:
Jaden and Scott Hair of Steamy Kitchen spoke about defining your success by redefining your life. One of the takeaways from that session that stuck with me was “If you can’t define success how do you know when you find it.” To me that hit home. I need to be clear what my goals are so I can gauge my progress. We were also told that “words are power”, and “story is key”, which I believe wholeheartedly. We also learned “no’s are more important than yes'”, which is also a really crucial thing to learn when blogging. Another key bit of advice was “always start with the emotion you want to achieve” when telling a story. There’s an ah ha moment for you. The main thing I learned from this session was the advice “you gain a sense of freedom once you redefine success”. Blogging is wonderful and I know I want to make it my career path, but my family always has and always will come first. So finding a way to balance both without either suffering is the key to success for me. I want to be remembered as a great mom first, everything else is just gravy.
Todd and Diane of White On Rice Couple spoke about “Taking your Visual Ideas to Flight”. I love these two so much. I met them last year and just took so much away from speaking to both of them after the event. They have given some great advice this past year on photo image theft as well. I just have such a soft spot for them. You can sense how much they adore working together and this sense of calm surrounds them all the time. They just inspire everyone they touch. They told us to “start with an idea”, to “look beyond the obvious” and “use your own perspective”. We also learned that we need to “think about WHY you do it”, which to me is a crucial bit of advice and the part that hit home for me. They told us that “conversations are important”. Also that you should find “your story, message and visual voice and not be afraid of anything”. “Your story is unique to you” which is so true, people read to hear about you. One of my favourite quotes from these two is “Your eyes are your lens, your heart is your shutter”. They spoke about that last year too and it’s just such a beautiful way to describe photography.
The amazing David Leite of Leite’s Culinaria spoke on a panel. I adore this man and was lucky to spend some quality time gabbing with him over the weekend. He’s just good people, and gives amazing advice. David talked about “authenticity” and “finding your intention”. He told us “the more specific the better the response”. That people will “fall in love with your voice” when you speak authentically and in your own voice. That “when they meet you they should feel like you are the same person” which I think is key advice. You really need to speak like you talk. I also love David’s idea of “no comment left behind”. I try so hard to follow this idea myself.
Julie of The Little Kitchen and Lindsay of Love and Olive Oil also spoke at the conference. They are the driving force behind organizing this massive conference so kudos to these ladies for all they do for all of us. I learned so much just from watching the ladies interact with each other. Blogging develops deep friendships and these two are a perfect example of that. They talked about photos and I learned I need some black boards for when things are too bright. Julie shoots by a small window and her photos are amazing so it’s all about capturing the light and using your camera to bring out the best in the shot. She nails it every time. Lindsay told us to use a stool to get higher, different perspective, I love this idea. I tend to move my stuff from a table to the floor for overhead shots but I like the idea of a stool so much better. We learned to play with textures and surfaces, look for tiles, flooring, wood, old doors, chalkboards, fake windows, anything that can be used in a shot to add texture and visual appeal.
I have to admit when Elise Bauer of Simply Recipes spoke on her panel I may have been so in “OMG it’s Elise Bauer” mode that I ceased taking notes and just stared. Yup, I get weird around people I admire sometimes. The smart thing would have been to keep taking notes but I was in stalker mode or something. Honestly, seriously embarrassing. We learned about DMCA which is so important if people are stealing your content. We learned about responsive design being important for mobile devices, so many people are using them now. I think one of the biggest thrills of my weekend was having Elise call me over on Sunday to say hello and chat. She is the most down to earth person I’ve ever met. I was a nervous wreck and she just calmed me right down immediately. We chatted about life and she met my family, asked my kids about school, and really took some time to get to know us. I was so thrilled to meet her and have a few minutes to chat with her. She is good people and so friendly. I adore her more than I did before, which I’m not even sure how that’s possible.
Disney put on a fabulous lunch. I would share pictures if I had any. Honestly, this is almost embarrassing at this point.
Later that night we had a special spot to see a show, and they served food and drinks. Everyone got to schmooze some more which is always so much fun. I went over to the venue with Liz and we gabbed with people and hung out. We hit the park after for some food with the family. I hung out late at the park which is always smart when you’re already tired. But I had oodles of fun!
Sunday was lunch at Whole Foods. I wish I had photos to share as it was spectacular. I got to take photos with friends, gab and eat. It was lovely.
Then I had the pleasure of having a power chat with the talented David Leite. I wanted some advice on a new project and he was kind enough to help me out. I test recipes for Leite’s Culinaria and one of the most special perks of that is getting to know David. He is just such a nice guy, always kind and he is genuinely interested in what people are doing, how they are doing it and why they are doing it. I cannot thank David enough for his time on both Saturday and Sunday. Those talks meant the world to me. Getting advice from someone like David, who is not only talented but someone you can trust, is invaluable. I feel blessed. Truly blessed.
Once lunch was over I had to say goodbye to all my lovely friends. That is never easy to do. These people are like family. Foodies just get other foodies. So spending a weekend with folks who get you is pretty cool. There were lots of hugs which I normally despise. Yet I love my foodie peeps so I indulged in lots of hugging and didn’t make anyone awkwardly fist bump or hip check for a change. What? I have issues. You all know that by now.
After we took a quick stroll around Whole Foods and revelled in all the beautiful things they sell we moved over to hotel #679 of the week. Okay that’s a lie, I think it was hotel #4, to set up for the next 5 days of fun. We extended our stay which I’ll share with you in another post. I actually have photos from that half of the trip. Go figure.
We headed back to Disney and spent the day riding things like The Tower of Terror. Seriously people, it’s frightening, yet we went on 97 times. Okay that’s an exaggeration, it was more like 79 times. I think we went on everything but Aerosmith, which was a bummer for me as that’s my favourite ride. But the line-ups were just too much for this IBS girl. I cannot do 1 hour wait times. We had a total blast, bought a ton of candy, ate ourselves silly and laughed till we couldn’t laugh any more. My tummy was its usual pain in the rump but I managed to have fun in spite of it.
So what did I learn?
I learned foodies rock.
I learned memory cards are uber important.
I learned I can stuff half a thing of candy floss down my pie hole in record time before hooligans descend on it.
I learned Liz of That Skinny Chick Can Bake can hold her own with the lunatics and she also kicks ass on rides where you shoot at things. The chick broke records man. It was brilliant.
I learned that Joan from Chocolate, Chocolate and More has an amazing sense of humour and has the coolest kids around!
I learned that Jenni of Pastry Chef Online is the coolest lady I know and I love her like a sistah!
I learned that Cheryl of Pook’s Pantry is just as hilarious and nice in person as she is online!
I learned that Kathy of Healthy Slow Cooking is just as silly as me and Jenni. This lady is a rock star!
I learned that Roxana of Roxana’s Home Baking is just so incredibly nice and easy to talk to!
I learned that Katrina of Katrina’s Kitchen is wicked nice in person! And cute as a button I must say!
I learned that Christine of Cook the Story is the sweetest lady ever, she’s also really tall and gorgeous!
I learned that Erin of Dinners, Dishes and Desserts is exactly who she comes on her site. So genuine and nice!
I learned that Angie of Big Bears Wife is really understanding while you’re talking and almost pass out in front of her! Thank goodness we stood near chairs.
I learned my IBS may hinder me but it cannot stop me.
I learned conferences are amazing if you make the most of them.
I learned I’m a Disney fan for life.
I could go on like this all day, but I won’t. It’s tempting though, not gonna lie!
Next year they are holding Food Blog Forum in Ashville, N.C. which I’ll likely attend. I love the peeps who put on this conference.
Next year we’ll also be visiting Disney on vacation. If I’ve learned anything it’s how much I love to travel and how much I love Disney. I’d love to go and be able to spend a whole day in the parks with the family whooping it up. So we had a long chat and made it our goal for next year. Wish us luck saving up for it!
Thanks so much to:
Lindsay Landis of Love and Olive Oil (ps. I love my camera bag so thank you!)
I’ll be sharing our extended trip in my next post so make sure you tune in for some pics. Hilarity ensues when I actually remember to take photos with a memory card in the camera.
I shall also be sharing my Eat Write Retreat post in the coming week.
Be sure to tune in on Fathers Day for a very special post that includes over 25 bloggers and a huge giveaway!
I’ve also whipped up things like ice cream, sliders, and a beef recipe that will blow your skirt up! So keep tuning in.
There’s also a huge new project being unveiled soon. It’s something I’ve been wanting to do for quite some time. I look forward to sharing that with you!
Whew I’m tired just reading about my own life. No wonder I do things like forget to put memory cards in cameras.
Thanks to Food Blog Forum for an amazing adventure filled with learning, inspiration, bonding and giving me a place where I fit in. I adore you all!
Toodles and smoochies! xx