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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4 Responses to “exploring yellowstone national park”

  1. Macaroni Mama — July 25, 2014 @ 3:16 pm

    Gosh! Beautiful pictures. The children will forever remember this trip.

  2. Di — July 30, 2014 @ 1:52 pm

    Thank you for sharing your trip and so many of your beautiful photos. I admire both your photographic skills and your discipline to chronicle the trip. My journal entries usually wane quickly after a few days on a trip. Beautiful job.

  3. Paula — July 30, 2014 @ 3:15 pm

    I’m very much enjoying reading about your vacation. So much information accompanied by beautiful photographs. Your kids have tons of reference material in their memory banks and right here for their first back to school essay on *What I Did On My Summer Vacation*

    P.S. I’m sure the waitress who gave you a * little shower* was mortified…I know I would be. The sombre hostess who wasn’t happy with your late dinner arrival probably just needs a little vacation time herself.

  4. Jen — August 4, 2014 @ 12:26 am

    My family just got back from a similar trip (Tetons/Yellowstone), and I’ve so enjoyed looking at your beautiful photographs and reading your experiences. What an incredible part of our country, and how great that you and your family got to experience it together. Thanks for sharing!

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