swag from the international food blogger conference

When my head finally hit the pillow last night in my hotel room in Seattle, about two hours later than I planned, I found that sleep didn’t come easily. My body was fatigued – I could feel it in my calves and in my back – but my mind was wired. Thoughts and images raced through my head, and it felt as if I’d been connected to an intravenous drip of pure caffeine, with maybe a hefty dose of amphetamine thrown in for good measure.

I had just wrapped up a weekend at the second annual International Food Blogger Conference. It’s going to be difficult to put the weekend into words that will describe accurately – using all five senses, if I learned anything from the lesson from the IFBC writing session – how wonderful the experience was for me. But I’ll give it a go.

I think you’ll find on other blog sites the details of what individual sessions were about. There were the basics of recipe writing – a great session by Amy Sherman, Dianne Jacob, and Kristine Kidd – and a fairly mind-numbing session (to me, anyway) on blog traffic and SEO (search engine optimization). Someone will have all the details of the legalities and ethics of blogging session in a post somewhere, but I can sum it up quickly: be transparent and disclose, disclose, disclose. There will be great posts on the session on Modernist Cuisine and on James Oseland‘s keynote address at the Saturday evening dinner. And I’m certain there will be beautiful posts on my two most favorite sessions – the two that nearly brought me to tears – the specialized diets session featuring Shauna Ahern and Alexandra Jamieson and the photography session featuring Penny De Los Santos.

As I write this – seated in seat 22D on my Delta flight home from Seattle, next to a young blonde woman who leaned over, staring at my laptop and asked, “Do you take photos of food for a living?” – I realize I’m bringing home just a few messages after the onslaught of information that came into my already filled-to-the-brim brain this weekend.

First, I am not a flowery writer, the way Kathleen Flinn’s session seemed to be headed, with ornate and over-the-top descriptions of the lemon without using the word lemon. That is not my style, and it is not the voice of this blog. It is not MY voice. I’m not going to change that. But I do promise to write more, to practice the art of writing, because THAT is important to me.

The second message that I heard and chose to walk away with is one that came from several people, and it basically is this: write about – or photograph – what you love. Shauna said that blogging is about “sharing the meaningful stories that move us,” Penny essentially said the same during the photography session – “Be inspired. Love what you do.”

The final message that I came away with – and the most profound of three – is this: the food blogging community is the most amazing group of people I have ever met.

Maria, Mardi, Jen, Marie, & Kelly

This is the sentiment that I have the hardest time putting into meaningful words. The thoughts that were racing through my head last night at 11:00 – and 11:10, and 11:20, and 11:30 – when I knew I should be sleeping since I had a 3:30 am (!) wake-up call, were not of recipe development or how to get published or how to get Molly Wizenberg to follow me on Twitter. The thoughts in my head were about all the simply fantastic people I’d met. People whom I’d met on twitter or through their blogs, people who I’d only known through their words, sometimes only in 140 characters or less. I felt like I’d known some of these bloggers for years, not just months. There was a connection there, a real connection.

That human connection was the real gift – the swag, if you will – that I brought home with me from the conference. That’s the swag that I value the most.

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13 Responses to “a few updates and a bit of housekeeping”

  1. Paula — December 13, 2011 @ 9:13 pm

    Thank you for posting a pic of your shoes. They are as pretty as I had thought they’d be. I don’t know how you or anyone walks in a stiletto heel…I know I can’t though I wish I could sometimes (5’2″ could use all the help:) Happy belated birthday to your daughter. What a lovely birthday present for her! Going to check out your guest post now, I like your kitchen *style*

  2. Adrienne — December 13, 2011 @ 9:27 pm

    Those are gorgeous. But look oh-so-painful!

  3. Winnie — December 13, 2011 @ 9:59 pm

    OMG. Those shoes are crazy beautiful, MJ! Thanks for keeping us posted as to what you’ve been up to, and I will check out the guest post now 🙂

  4. Brian @ A Thought For Food — December 13, 2011 @ 10:18 pm

    Who needs food when you have such fabulous fashion to post about? 🙂

  5. Jen @ My Kitchen Addiction — December 13, 2011 @ 10:47 pm

    Those gold stilettos are GOR-GEOUS, MJ!! You will definitely rock them. I am all for fashion over comfort. 🙂

  6. DessertForTwo — December 13, 2011 @ 11:06 pm

    Oh the shoes! Oh my! Gorgeous! (just like you!)


  7. Denise @ Creative Kitchen — December 13, 2011 @ 11:28 pm

    We love Disney!! Glad you got away as a family. Love your kitchen…we also have an island and love it!

  8. Lillian (Unstitched.) — December 14, 2011 @ 3:06 am

    Aw, thank you so much for the sweet words! 🙂 And, of course, thank you SO MUCH for sharing your lovely (and yes, STYLISH) kitchen!!

  9. tina — December 14, 2011 @ 6:49 am

    So focused on your shoes that I don’t know what dish you wrote about. My calves hurt and I am dizzy, but those shoes are gorgeous!

  10. tina — December 14, 2011 @ 6:50 am

    Just realized you wrote about about Brussels Sprouts on Unstitiched.

  11. Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray — December 14, 2011 @ 8:47 am

    Wow, those are seriously amazing shoes! They would make me at least 6’2″ so I’ll live vicariously through you and your hot shoes 🙂
    Love your kitchen too, btw!

  12. Nicole — December 15, 2011 @ 9:56 pm

    Those shoes are hot! Love them.

  13. Anneliesz — December 30, 2011 @ 7:52 pm

    Those gold stilettoes are glorious & fun! Perfect souvenir from

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