the food blog forum orlando, disney edition

If you told me that one day I would be pushing a candy-apple red KitchenAid Stand Mixer in a stroller around Epcot on St. Patrick’s Day, I would probably think you’ve had one too many green beers. And, if you told me that I would be pushing that mixer-filled baby stroller alongside a French-speaking, macaron-baking, Australian-born Canadian carrying a basket of chocolates, I would immediately know that you’ve not only been drinking but that you’ve also forgotten to take your antipsychotic medications.

But, it happened. It really did.

why, yes, i did win that mixer. yay, me!

I spent the weekend in Orlando for the second annual Food Blog Forum held in that city, but the very first one held at Walt Disney World. Disney was one of the sponsors and the host of the conference, and the hospitality shown to our group was really incredible. From the hotel rooms at the Polynesian (my son’s favorite Disney hotel), to the food served over the course of the two day conference, to the the complimentary park passes for the attendees and our family members, Disney did everything right.

Disney always does everything right. It’s their way.

While winning the mixer was a nice bonus of the trip, I was there to soak up knowledge and to have fun in the process.

Lessons abound at food blogging conferences, both inside the session rooms and outside them. Though I was doubtful whether I would walk away with any earth-shattering wisdom, I had a wonderful time and managed to gain tidbits of information along the way.

From Diane and Todd, the White on Rice Couple, we were taught that photography should be about storytelling. That is such a simple, common sense idea, but it’s one that gets lost amidst the props and pretty plates. I am quite grateful to Todd for teaching me so much about Lightroom, organizing my digital photos, and shooting in Raw versus JPEG. That brief round table session was very high yield. And aside from the photography genius, I discovered that Diane and Todd are a beautiful couple, on the inside and out – inspirational and passionate about life.

I learned from Dawn Viola’s session that she’s even more amazing than I first thought. She has such a passion and energy for life that I wish I could bottle it and add a few drops to my coffee each morning. I absorbed every tidbit of writing advice that David Leite offered to us. When his two sessions were over, I was left wishing I could pack him up, take him home with me, and force him to sit by my side while I write. Jennie’s and Kelly’s round table session on food writing was simply too short. I could talk to them for hours, especially since it’s the writing that has me so jazzed lately.

The highlight of Food Blog Forum Orlando wasn’t the swag bag of goodies or the page of notes that I took from the sessions. It wasn’t even the green beer that Mardi and I sneaked out to get after lunch, though that was pretty darn great at the moment. The best part of the conference was the coming together of friends and strangers to partake in a two-day event to celebrate food, to celebrate feeding others – whether with a fork, through the written word, or through the beauty of a photograph.

We honored the act of nourishing others, and I can’t think of anything better than that.


 * The top photo was taken by Aggie. Thanks for capturing the hilarity of the moment for me, Aggie.


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22 Responses to “the food blog forum orlando, disney edition”

  1. 1
    Paula- bell'alimento — March 21, 2012 @ 4:58 pm

    It was such a great weekend MJ! LOVED seeing you as always! xoxo

  2. 2
    Kiran @ — March 21, 2012 @ 5:00 pm

    Spoken like a true champ!! Bummer that we only hugged it out and never really spent enough time gossiping!

    Next time for sure 😀

    Congrats on the mixer!!!

  3. 3
    Carol Sacks — March 21, 2012 @ 5:01 pm

    I have a big smile on my face after reading your post! Sounds like a nourishing weekend and lots of fun, too. And, you look great, MJ!

  4. 4
    Mal @ The Chic Geek — March 21, 2012 @ 5:04 pm

    This sounds like such a fabulous time!

  5. 5
    Kathryn — March 21, 2012 @ 6:12 pm

    It sounds so much fun, I’ve loved seeking everyone’s photos and posts!

  6. 6
    Macaroni Mama — March 21, 2012 @ 9:39 pm


  7. 7
    Rachel @ Not Rachael Ray — March 22, 2012 @ 9:00 am

    Looks like so much fun, and congrats on the mixer!

  8. 8
    Noble Pig - Cathy — March 22, 2012 @ 1:03 pm

    Beautiful post…can’t wait to go next year!

  9. 9
    Mardi@eatlivetravelwrite — March 22, 2012 @ 5:23 pm

    Oh it was SO Much fun hanging out with you and your fabulous family and I wouldn’t have traded walking through Epcot with you and the Kitchen Aid for anything in the world XOX

  10. 10
    Wanda — March 23, 2012 @ 7:33 am

    You are a funny writer, love it. We had an amazing weekend and the best part was that we got to share it our family. Having my girls there with me made the event even more special! Great recap! Hope to be able to spend more time with you next time me meet. Are you attending any other blog event?

    • 10.1
      Merry-Jennifer — March 24, 2012 @ 11:59 pm

      Wanda – I’ll be at TechMunch in Tampa and at Big Summer Potluck!

  11. 11
    Cathy — March 23, 2012 @ 8:56 am

    love the picture of you, mardi, and the mixer!!

  12. Pingback: Food Blog Forum Orlando 2012 — r e c i p e b ♥ x

  13. 12
    Brian @ A Thought For Food — March 25, 2012 @ 10:41 pm

    I am just seeing this post now. Congratulations on winning the mixer! How exciting!!!

    So glad you had such a fabulous time!

  14. 13
    Aggie — March 27, 2012 @ 4:48 pm

    I’m a little behind on my reading…I have a huge smile on my face right now. Hanging with you & your fam was a highlight! You were such a rockstar with that mixer at Epcot 🙂

    • 13.1
      Merry-Jennifer — March 28, 2012 @ 3:04 pm

      Aggie – thanks for snapping that photo! SO good to see you in Orlando.

  15. Pingback: the little kitchen » Food Blog Forum Orlando 2012 at Walt Disney World

  16. 14
    Sunny — March 28, 2012 @ 4:47 pm

    Congrats on the mixer, can’t wait to add one of those to my collection when I get my kitchen remodeled! Yours is the first entry I’ve read about attending a blog conference. I’ve registered for IFBC in Portland OR this August, and am really looking forward to it! Thank you for sharing this story.

  17. Pingback: Foodblogforum recap « Zaika Zabardast

  18. 15
    Adam and Joanne — April 4, 2012 @ 4:03 pm

    Nice prize! Can’t wait to see all of the posts with the mixer in the background 🙂 Wish we were there…maybe next year!

  19. Pingback: Food Blog Forum Orlando/Walt Disney World 2012 | Aggie's Kitchen

  20. 16
    MommyNamedApril — April 24, 2012 @ 10:50 pm

    so very bummed i missed it this year!

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