Sometimes, you have to add a battery pack and twinkle lights

In June, I attended my fourth BlogHer conference. But this one felt strange. The last six writing conferences I attended all had a similar feel — one in which I knew dozens of people and was comfortable just…being me. That’s when I thrive.

This time, I started the conference off with a bang. After 3 flights in less than a week, and a truly amazing Disney adventure, my back was acting up for the first time in months. I was in pain, which only exasperated my desire to hide.

I know what you’re thinking. Chrissy? Hiding?

So, I’m an introverted extrovert. If you know me, you couldn’t possibly see me as shy. But if you don’t, you might think I’m the quiet one. Adding to that, I spent much of this year suffering from mild depression and anxiety, and now, I’ve got a recipe for disaster.

And so at BlogHer, only knowing a few of the several thousand people and trying to fight through pain, anxiety, and depression, I found myself hiding. Skipping sessions to nap in my room. Barely taking any photos throughout the events. Wandering the exhibitor hall by myself instead of sitting through full keynotes from really interesting speakers. Opting out of late night partying with new friends, and instead, I found myself floating down the lazy river with my roomie, Renee.

It was still fun, but it was a different kind of fun than one should have at a writing conference full of like-minded people. I found myself asking why I was even there.

On Friday night, I took a Valium for my back pain and crashed early.

On Saturday morning, Renee left, and my dear friend, Samara, was doing her own thing…so I wandered the expo for a while. I was interviewed for a Forbes podcast, and the guy looked at me — sporting a normal-ish blonde hairstyle and simple blue dress — with douche eyes and actually said, “Quirky Chrissy? You don’t look very quirky. Now, I saw this other girl who had rainbow hair and a unicorn horn. Now, THAT’S quirky.” Maybe it was the place my brain was hiding, but I wanted to simultaneously punch him and cry. But how do you defend your personality when someone mocks your chosen moniker?

I left the expo feeling down in the dumps.

The thing about being an extrovert who suffers from depression and anxiety is that you need people to help lift you out of the cycle, but you don’t want to be around people when you’re depressed or anxious.

By the time the closing party rolled around, I was ready to go home. But I told Samara I’d meet her down there. And I knew there would be snacks — I was starving, and I’ve yet to find a reason to say no to free food. So I decided I had one last chance to bust out my magic twinkle skirt.

And then I found some more of my people, and people recharge me the way the battery pack sewn into this skirt makes it light up. They bring me back to life (that’s the extroverted part of my brain). I met the unicorn girl, Elliotte, — who, by the way, is AMAZING — and she was kind and wonderful and inspiring…and she gave me a pink unicorn horn.

writers posing at the blogher17 closing party

Photo credit: BlogHer17/SheKnows Media

If I could have gone back in time and worn this fucking skirt the whole time I was in Orlando, I think I would have. Because there’s no better way to make 50 new friends than to wear a light up twinkle skirt. It was my superhero transformation and for a few hours, I wasn’t depressed or anxious or homesick. It wasn’t a REAL fix, but it helped me.

It was my superhero transformation and for a few hours, I wasn’t depressed or anxious or homesick. It wasn’t a REAL fix, but it helped me end the weekend on a high note.Twinkling Stars Skirt - Blue. 3X by ThinkGeek

I started seeing writing friends at the conference, some of whom I knew were there and that I’d said hi to, but hadn’t made a point to actually hang out with, despite my desperate need for more human interaction. I was shy and nervous. I convinced myself they didn’t want to hang out with me. I was afraid. But once I put on my magic skirt, and it was like I could hide my insecurities behind the sparkles and just illuminate the bright spots. It was a Band Aid, but at the time, I really needed a Band Aid.

selfie with writing friends at BlogHer

Eventually, I met up with Samara and she was ready to DANCE. And so I danced. And twirled. And shined brighter than I had throughout the whole conference. I felt glimmers of the me that I love to be, and I knew I had to get back there.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Chefs Say the Darnedest Things | Stephanie Izard & Andrew Zimmerman

I love culinary professionals. My first full-time job was as a catering manager at a small, private college. Our chefs were absolutely fantastic, and I was and am proud to call them my friends. I’ve worked with several amazing chefs over the last decade or so, and I learned so much from them – lessons I’ll remember forever. Of course, even with incredibly talented chefs in my social network, it’s always exciting to speak to the chef or meet the chef of a fine dining establishment (especially when they’re TV famous and stuff…you know how starstruck I can get).

I recently had the pleasure of attending two food demonstrations by Chefs Stephanie Izard and Andrew Zimmerman of Top Chef and Iron Chef respectively. They were hilarious presenters and amazing chefs.

I recently returned (okay fine, “returned”) home from BlogHerFood, which was hosted in Chicago…so really I didn’t go anywhere. Hell, I didn’t even sleep in a hotel. I drove home every night. Well, the first night, I took the train home. Whatever.

At this delicious (actually delicious because SO. Much. Food.) conference, I had the pleasure of attending a couple special events with food demos from local and TV famous chefs.

On Thursday night, I was invited to a dinner hosted by Canadian Lentils to gear up for International Year of Pulses (a celebration of lentils, beans, chickpeas and peas) in 2016. Chef Stephanie Izard (Top Chef Season 4 Winner and Fan-Favorite, who also happens to be a Mom-approved favorite by the world’s toughest critic, my mom) hosted us at Little Goat, which I’ve visited for brunch once before. In the private party space above the chic diner/bar, we were welcomed with cocktails and apps in a demo kitchen space that opened out to a fabulous rooftop patio. We were privvy to a fantastic food demo from Chef herself as she discussed lentils, food prep and more. Of course, I was taking notes of a different kind. Chef Stephanie Izard prepares shrimp at a demo for Canadian Lentils

I’ve realized in my years of hearing people speak and listening in on other people’s conversations, that every now and then someone will say something in or out of context that is truly hilarious or hits home on the perfect spot. And so I wrote them down (slightly paraphrased, perhaps. Those cocktails were freeflowing, if I didn’t already mention that).

Stephanie Izard on doing the dishes

I was doing dishes, which I don’t do at home, but here I found it quite soothing…

I loved this little blurb. Because it made perfect sense to me. When things are stressful, sometimes doing something like washing the dishes can be incredibly calming. And I really love that she doesn’t do dishes at home. Neither do I, Steph. Neither do I.

Stephanie Izard on snacks

Give people snacks and it’ll make them quite happy.

Isn’t that what I’ve been saying forever? Brian found the way to my heart through snacks (which he always keeps in his backpack for me – although it’s likely a defense mechanism to protect him from my hangry…but I digress…). Chef Stephanie nailed it. Obviously, we’re best friends now.

I had the pleasure of meeting and slightly drunkenly fangirling Stephanie Izard.

I may have been drunk when I fangirled poor Stephanie.

Stephanie Izard on finishing your plate

If you’re good and you eat all your lentils…

I don’t even remember what she said after that because I was laughing. Everything at the even had lentils in it. And everything was freakin’ delicious. So yes. Yes, Stephanie Izard, I will eat all my lentils. In a box, with a fox, in a house, with a mouse. Om nom nom.

Stephanie Izard on overeating

We’re going to feed you til you drop.

Other than knowing I was in the right place, I really wanted to tell Chef that she didn’t even know what kind of promises she was making with that statement. I proceeded to eat, drink, and be merry thanks to my friends, Jeremy and Gillian (the world’s best bartender and server).

Jeremy the bartender and Gillian the server.

Honestly, it was a total win, and I stumbled full, drunk and happy to the train with my new found friends. I knew this food conference was the best decision ever.

The next day, exhausted and hungry, I arrived at the conference for Round 2. They started feeding me immediately upon my arrival and didn’t stop until I left Saturday night. It was heaven.

At lunch on Friday, I attended another foodie demonstration, hosted by Foodinsights.org and discussing the importance of protein from the food aspect to the fitness aspect. The demo was with Iron Chef winner and Chicago chef, Andrew Zimmerman.Iron Chef Andrew Zimmerman gives a food demonstration working with different proteins.

Andrew Zimmerman on risotto

Usually, you cram it full of cream and cheese and butter, which is like vegan kryptonite.

Chef had me laughing my ass off with this one, as he was discussing his very much non-vegan restaurant and how he handles vegan customers. He makes them risotto (but, like, a vegan version without all the good stuff).

Andrew Zimmerman on pork

Play with it; it’s fun-all squishy and meaty.

I wouldn’t necessarily consider squishy and meaty fun, but Zimmerman has a point. Sometimes it’s okay to play with your food. Like when I’m making meatloaf and I play with the raw egg for a little bit before mixing it into the ground meat. Everyone has their weird.

Andrew Zimmerman on the cuisine of their restaurants

My restaurant is globally informed contemporary American which is basically my answer for whatever. I. feel. like.

His bullshit level is through the roof with brilliance, and I absolutely love him for it. If I ever had a restaurant, I would totally get behind a “whatever I feel like making” stance.

Bravo, my new chef friends, bravo. Thank you so much for your fascinating demos, your hilarious words, and most importantly, you’re delicious food. Because if there’s any real way to my heart, it’s through food.

Blog friends, have you ever met a TV famous chef? What are some of your favorite culinary moments (Mastering the blue box mac and cheese totally counts)? Ever seen a food demonstration? Who is the funniest person you’ve heard speak?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Felt Up By a Minion and the Objectification of Male Models

The BlogHer15 Closing Party was something of a shit show.  By that, I mean,  I was hungover from the night before and felt like shit, and there was quite a show.

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Sure, BoyzIIMen stopped by for a 3-song set. When song three played and it wasn’t Motown Philly, I was ready to start throwing things. But they appeased me by rolling right into a fourth number, Motown Philly for the win,  without me needing to throw things or beg for an encore.

 

A video posted by Quirky Chrissy (@quirkychrissy) on

 

 

And yes, Nick Cannon (and I’m still not entirely sure who he is) tore up the house with mostly decent tunes. I didn’t dance all that much (but I was out on account of back pain).

And then there were the minions. They showed up to party with the bloggers, and boy did they get fresh!

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But the real stars of the McDonald’s show at Pier 84 in New York were the dozens of male models Mickey D’s hired to serve us chicken nuggets and cheeseburgers.

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About 30 minutes into the party I started noticing that every single server was a dude. And almost all of them were totally attractive dudes. Sure they were young, and made my “29” years seem older…but they were pretty.

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I mentioned this to some of my friends…and they all looked at me like I was nuts.

Wait, Chrissy, you mean you DIDN’T notice this right away like everyone else?

Well, no, guys. I didn’t.  Upon entering this party, I was on a singular mission,  and that mission was chicken nuggets. I was thinking with my hangover. By 9 pm, the hangover had lifted like the morning fog, and this party took on a whole new world.

A world that involved a lot of ridiculous photography of male models in McDonald’s tee shirts that read I’m  Lovin’ it.

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Me too, McDonald’s.  Me too.

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When I realized what McD’s had done, I was almost afraid to say anything for fear of this being something other than politically correct. And then I didn’t care. Because nothing goes better with chicken nuggets than hot dudes.

They served us food and drinks, removed our trash, and brightened our evening for the one of the best closing parties this girl’s ever been to. I hung out with old friends and new, and reveled in the party at the pier.

The dudes were like the happy meal toys, and I wanted to collect them all. So before the party ended, I raced around the event searching for the servers. It was indeed a happy meal.

And so it was that McDonald’s made nuggets and cheeseburgers sexy by serving them with a side of hunk.

The Men of McDonald's at the BlogHer15 Closing Party really knew how to show us girls a good time.

And not one woman there was complaining about it.

 

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

BlogHer Conference: Not Just for Mommy Bloggers

I recently discovered that BlogHer in the media is labeled as the biggest mom-blogger conference in the country.

This is news to me. As a second-year attendee, with no children to speak of, it really bothers me.

BlogHer is an all-encompassing conference for people who blog. Men. Women. Parents. Writers. Humorists. Storytellers. Young. Old. Gay. Straight. We are unified by our desire to write and to share our stories.

Sure the HER part of BlogHer makes it a conference comprised of mostly women, but men are welcome and WELCOMED.

So here’s my wrap-up. The good, the bad and the ugly. But I gained so much more immediately following this conference than what I thought I got out of BlogHer13.

I didn’t go for the speakers or the sessions…though Jenny Lawson was fabulous, some of the things Kerry Washington  had to say resonated with me, and I learned some valuable information about publication.

I didn’t go for the swag…though I was happy to add to my board game collection thanks to Chuck E Cheese, Skype blew it out of the park with branded stuff my co-workers may be a bit jealous of, and I’m pretty excited (Read: OMG had a freakout in the hallway with another ginger blogger) about trying out the new Keurig when it comes out.

I went for the people.

The writers, the women, the friends that I’ve made in the blogosphere and the people I met on our Californiadventure. I was lucky to have met a fantastic group of women from around the world before I even made it to BlogHer, so I went into the conference with a beautiful group of new friends. I got to hang out with Joules again and Jenny (my bestie’s adorable and wonderful SIL) and so many others that I met last year (I loved that so many of us kept bumping into each other)!

I met the AMAZING Lillian Connelly finally. She was my first fan that wasn’t obligated by friendship or blood to like me. And she was my first blog friend to really welcome me into this digital community. I also met a large group of women that I spend a lot time reading and interacting with on the Book of Face. We had dinner/snacks/drinks before the closing party and they were all ABSOLUTELY wonderful. And hysterical.

Selfie with Lily

Selfie with Lily

The brands, connections and companies that help me keep this blog running. Networking with businesses that fit with my brand of crazy and meeting writers and social media mavens who offer advice, experience and contacts was an unexpected highlight of my first conference and definitely something I found yet again. You never know who you’re going to sit next to at breakfast or run into at a party.

It was awesome to hang out with my hosting company, DreamHost. Because they. Are. Awesome.

It was awesome to hang out with my hosting company, DreamHost. Because they. Are. Awesome. (Shameless plug: if you use my affiliate code, QuirkyHost, you can save $10 on a one- or two-year contract.)

On tribes, cliques and cool kids

I am lucky enough to have several groups of blog friends. I am a part of groups and tribes. But I don’t think that any one group was the be all end all of this conference. I think they were all unbelievable and better in real life than ever I imagined. I bounced around as I tend to do, flitting from event to group hangout to solo time to a little one-on-one with my honey. And still I missed whole groups of people that I wanted to spend time with.

The best part, though, is that every group I sat down in, every person I talked to, every cool kid table I moseyed my way into was cool. I learned from veterans and educated newbies. Some saw me as a relative newbie while others looked to me for advice and acceptance. But as Aussa Lorens mentioned, there’s always that .8% of people who aren’t quite as awesome. My .8% happened to be a single person who reminded me of my grandmother-though not in a bad way at all-(her personality, the way she spoke, her love of sparkly things), assumed I was a plus-size fashion blogger before even making eye-contact with me or shaking my hand, and didn’t want to exchange business cards with anyone who wasn’t a fashion blogger. But she may have been nervous. Or annoyed at the session we were in. Or having a bad day. So I don’t fault her.

Every group seemed like the “cool kids”  and almost every time they welcomed me with open arms. It was lovely.

On the expo hall, sessions, food, and parties

While the expo hall was smaller this year than last, I felt as though I didn’t have enough time to navigate to all the places I wanted to. Sure, there wasn’t as much swag free-flowing, but I feel like I made better connections with brands that I really want to work with.

The sessions were MUCH longer than last year, and thus less to my liking. I would rather have more options, and less lengthy panels with a lot of information that isn’t relevant to me. The publishing session offered a lot of information, but I think it could have been broken down into separate sessions about the different ways to publish. I made it to the style session, but it didn’t really seem to be what I thought it was, so I bounced.

The conference food was okay. I didn’t starve this time. I’m REALLY glad I’m not gluten-free this year (though I have found I feel a little better when I avoid bread and potatoes) because everything was all the bread.

Yoga and wine. At the same time.

Yoga and wine. At the same time.

The parties that I did attend were great. Eppa and One2One threw a killer yoga and sangria party. Keurig fed me the most delicious breakfast complete with Kcup coffee from the new Keurig 2.0. I also attended a beautiful and powerful panel discussing late-stage breast cancer. I tried to get into the suite parties, but they were SO crowded that I just. couldn’t. do it. Plus Brian was with me (and actually up for partying) so I couldn’t not find a less-crowded spot to hang. We met up with the lovely Joules from Pocketful of Joules and a few other ladies for karaoke and Twisted Shotz. All. The. Shotz.

Don’t worry. I’ll share the karaoke video at some point.

I was a little disappointed in the lack of a swag drop/exchange on Saturday night/Sunday when I was packing up my swag and found a few items that weren’t super relevant to me. I had no place to drop them off to be donated or snagged by someone who WOULD use them. Bummer.

On candy in a pill bottle

One of the brands at BlogHer was giving out swag with Red Hots inside of a prescription bottle with a label designed to make adults laugh. I was unlucky enough to miss this before they shut down the “drug ring.” Because this brand was a company that produces baby products, the media blew up with the mom-blogger conference sponsor that did a bad thing.

While I don’t have children (thus likely discounting my opinion, apparently), I don’t think the company made a huge mistake. First, no one complained last year when a pharmacy gave out all the drugs. Actual drugs. Because those were for grown ups. I’m pretty sure the Red Hots were for grown ups too. The swag here isn’t all for toddlers to play with.

Second, when I was about 8 or 9, I used to play with candies (usually Pez) as “pills” in used prescription bottles, while smoking my gum and powdered sugar cigarettes and swiping Mom’s expired credit cards to purchase used lotto tickets while playing bartender. Granted, I was old enough to know the difference between play and real. Maybe you think poorly of me. Or my parents. But I turned out to be a successful, smart, independent woman who never ODed on pills, picked up a smoking habit or gambled my way into Gamblers’ Anonymous.

In the same token, I don’t think poorly of the parents who disliked the swag. That’s their prerogative.

But in the end, I was a little sad I didn’t get a bottle of laughter medicine.

Thankfully, I surrounded myself with BlogHers who made me laugh.

Did you go to BlogHer? Have you been to BlogHer? Would you go to BlogHer next year? Have you been to a conference similar to this? What experiences did/would you hope to have at a conference of this magnitude?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

The BlogHer Conference Questions You’re Afraid to Ask…Answered

Greetings! If you’re not a blogger or you’re not going to the BlogHer Conference and don’t want to read about bloggy things, might I recommend you travel down a rabbit hole of random and ridiculous by reading about that one time I went skiing and didn’t listen to my mom? (Even if you are going to BlogHer…and you haven’t read that-and the subsequent two posts–go forth and enjoy when you’re done reading about BlogHer).

Some of my bloggy friends have LOTS of questions and since I’m now a veteran, I have some answers…so I figured you might want answers, as well. In no particular order…Here are your BlogHer Conference questions answered.

The Expo Hall

Can I bring my kids? Do you have to buy them a ticket?

While I don’t have kiddos of my own, I did a little research for you. Tiny humans are totally welcome, according to BlogHer. Of course, if they’re walking and talking, I believe they need a conference pass (or an expo/networking pass) to play. Conferences in the past have offered childcare, though I couldn’t seem to find any information for this year.

Do you know how much the expo hall and party pass is?

$149 gives you access to all expo hall stuff and cocktail hours/parties, but not breakfast, lunch, speakers or sessions.

Is the expo hall really fun?

I loved being on the expo floor. Not only did I get to try out all sorts of tasty snacks (My favorites last year were Love with Food, Keurig Brew Over Ice, SodaStream, and Kozy Shack pudding) play games, meet cool people and interact with brands, but also I got to meet with a lot of sponsors and brand reps that I got to work with over the past year.
Keurig Brew Over Ice

Do you spend a lot of time (on the expo floor)?

Last year, I did. I got to meet Travis Stork and interview him, courtesy of Simply Saline. I was able to network with a variety of PR professionals and brands that led to sponsored posts, product reviews and other things that are helping me to monetize my blog.

Technology

Should I bring a laptop?

I brought my laptop last year and didn’t open it once. I also didn’t blog during the conference. All of my social media-ing happened on my Android phone and that worked out perfectly. This year, I’m traveling for 9 days, so I’ll bring my small laptop (it’s seriously TINY) for use in the hotels and my tablet and phone will do everything else.

Should I bring my fancy camera or is my phone enough?

I’m totally a fan of my fancy phone because it does most of what I want it to do. That being said, I finally have a camera that I love and bought specifically for blogging, so I’ll probably bring both.

Does everyone sit around with their laptops open?

Some do. Some don’t. Are you the type of person that needs their laptops to take notes? If not, stick with a pen and note pad. Type up details later if you are so inclined. You’re not going to want to cart the heavy stuff around. If you have a tablet or phone, that’s likely to be enough.

I heard the internet can be spotty with so many people trying to use it.

I didn’t have a huge problem with that, but I was also using my phone for most of my internetting.

Party Time

Are the parties really fun?

I think a lot of the parties are what you make of them. Go with your people and don’t be afraid to laugh at yourself, or even better, to introduce yourself to other bloggers. I didn’t talk to many people outside of my comfort circle, and I missed out on opportunities to meet up with and hang out with bloggers like Lisa Newlin and Kate Whine Hall.

Did you love the official parties?

Some of them. I didn’t go to all of the official parties, but I really enjoyed a few. Expo on Thursday night was awesome with appetizers and beverages, a small crowd and some of my favorite bloggers. One of the Friday night parties we went to was totally stellar with lots of fun activities.

Do some people get way too drunk?

Probably. I didn’t last year, nor did I really see many people stumbling…but there are always a few.

How do you know if you should accept an invitation to a party or not?

If it’s something you’re really interested in, accept. If you’re not sure, wait it out and think about it. You don’t want to over-book yourself and miss lunch…

Do you stay for the whole party or just pop in for a while?

That depends on the party. Some have speakers and agendas, while others are more come-and-go as you please type parties.

Food

Is it hard to eat in time to get back to the classes?

So lunch is a part of the agenda, and the keynotes are during breakfast and lunch. You should have PLENTY of time to eat those meals. Bring snacks if you get that 3 PM drop in energy, because dinners are not part of the conference, so you may be waiting a while to eat. That being said, make sure you take care of yourself and eat enough to get you through the day. One of my biggest problems was over-booking myself last year and not eating enough so that I was beyond HANGRY by the time the evening festivities rolled around. So if you’re like me, plan the con around your dinner not the other way around.

The Pioneer Woman at BlogHer13

After breakfast with Ree Drummond

So dinner is on your own?

Yes.

I better pack snacks then.

Me too. Om nom nom.

Take Care of You

Do you find yourself exhausted at one point and just hide out in your room for a while?

Definitely. That’s why I opted for the hotel that was attached to the conference hall.

If I leave early and don’t stay out until 2 am will I be a total loser/old lady?

Nope. Some people revel in the party all night conference attitude and others are ready for bed by 10 pm. There’s no one right way to rock this place. One night I was up until midnight. The other night I was asleep by 10:30. It’s your conference. Make of it what you want.

General Conference Tips

How do you keep track of parties and sessions and events?

I used my Google calendar to arrange my schedule.

Should I blog about the conference while I am at the conference?

You can. I’m sure your bloggy friends at home would love the play by play, but you may miss some of the fun if you’re busy writing about it.

Do you stay in touch with new people you have met at the conference after the conference?

Isn’t that what this is all about? For me, the best part of blogging conferences and networking with other bloggers is meeting new people who really fit into your tribe. I’ve started attending a lot of events in the Chicago area and I love running into other bloggers that I’ve met and followed.

I read to skip the classes and mingle with people because that’s better for your blog than the classes are; is that true?

This TOTALLY depends on the workshops and how they relate to you. If it sounds like information you already know? Don’t go. If it sounds like something you don’t want to know about? Don’t go. If you want to learn about the topic or improve yourself on the topic, then go. I didn’t go to many of the sessions, but this year there are more that appeal to me. So you may see me in a session or two.

Does going to BlogHer make you a better blogger or is more about seeing people you are friends with?

I think everything we do makes us better bloggers. Whether we’re actively attending workshops or reading new bloggers to get some inspiration or meeting your blog friends for hilarious blog fodder, you’re going to get something out of this conference to improve your blog.

If you’re not really into brands or doing product reviews, is it worth going to BlogHer? Will you make other types of connections that will make it all worthwhile?

I think so. Last year, I stayed in a little bubble of bloggers I knew, but ventured out a smidge. I wanted to network with brands and see where that could take me, but I think there’s a lot of opportunities for bloggers who don’t want to monetize with brands. If you’re an artist or Etsy seller, showcase wearable products. Design a bag on Zazzle with your art that you can carry your stuff in. Make friends. Exchange business cards.

Is voices of the year something I’d want to miss part of?

I think it really depends on you. I also think that last year I had a very unusual experience because Queen Latifah was REALLY late and they wouldn’t start without her. And I had missed lunch. And I was starving. And crabby. Beyond Hangry. So you might see me there. With a snack pack.

Should I really pack an extra suitcase for all of the free stuff? Will it really be that much stuff?

I don’t want the bloggers who hate girls who love free stuff to hate me…
But that’s what I’m doing. (I’m also going to be in San Francisco and Sonoma the week before the conference and bringing home souvenirs, so there’s that.)

Brands

Do brands ask you to do reviews, etc at the expo or is it more like they take your info and get back to you later?

Some of the brands will ask you to use social media at the expo, but for reviews on your blog or sponsored posts will likely be later.

Did you see any artsy-type brands at the expo, last time?

You can actually go check out who the past and future brand sponsors are!
BlogHer 2012 sponsors
BlogHer 2013 sponsors
BlogHer 2014 sponsors

What to Pack

What should I wear?

Seriously–BE comfortable. You can look professional and be comfortable at the same time. There was a point one day last year where I had worn a strapless bra and was so miserable that I hid behind a wall in the expo hall, pulled it off, and continued with the rest of my day. I’m a fan of cropped yoga pants with nice shirts, skirts and comfortable, but clean and adorable, sandals most of the time. (I wear yoga shorts and crops under skirts for fear that I’m going to fall down and show everyone my lady bits.)

What about shoes?

I bought several pairs of shoes from brands I know and trust in order to be comfortable while still looking cute and showing off the pedicure I’m going to get…I made you a little Amazon widget with the shoes I’ll be sporting. (Yes, I’ll get a teensy tiny affiliate commission if you buy them, but they’re really awesome shoes.) I swear by Merrell and Naturalizer. The Bare Trap shoes aren’t as supportive, so I had to add arch support to keep them comfortable.

Should I wear a fancy dress to the cocktail parties?

I ended up wearing dresses and outfits that could easily transition from day to night. Some people were wearing jeans; others wore dresses. I still say stick with your comfort zone.

Blog Friends, do you have other questions? How can I help you get ready for BlogHer? BlogHer veterans, what tips do you have? If you’re going, look for me and say hi!

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Dr. Travis Stork, Will You Marry Me? Errr… My Interview With The Doctor…

So…I wanted to make a video reenacting the interview with Dr. McDreamy, as performed by Brian…but he said no. Or I didn’t ask him and dreamed it all up in my head. One of those.

Instead, I’ll give you the highlights. And the interview. And pictures. Because that’s what I do.

Also, I suppose I should restart by telling you what the hell I’m talking about.

At BlogHer (oh yes. That again. You thought I was done…silly humans blog friends) I was offered the opportunity to interview delicious respectable celebrity doctor, Dr. Travis Stork of The Doctors. Some of you may know him from The Bachelor in Paris (I’m not going to lie, I don’t actually watch reality TV but I can see why they chose him as The Bachelor. He’s pretty. Smart.)

I began the day by sitting in on the first half of his panel about health and wellness, presented by Simply Saline (the very kind sponsors who offered me the opportunity to interview Dr. Stork). During this time, much like a high school student completing their homework for 6th hour in 1st hour, I wrote up my questions for the interview scheduled for that afternoon. The following is what resulted (None of these are direct quotes…there is some author interpretation/liberties).

I did tell him I was a humor blogger…and that things would be a little more..well me…hopefully he’s cool with my…memory.

Me: In your panel, which I only saw half of before I snuck out to explore the expo floor  you spoke about the importance of prevention. How can someone with a penchant for falling down, sprains, etc prevent injuries?

Dr. Stork: Footwear. What kind of shoes are you wearing?

Me: My shoes rock. They have arch support and everything!

Dr. Stork: Even those can catch and make you trip. You’ve got to watch where you’re walking. Railings are there for a reason.  They joke about people not being able to walk and chew gum at the same time? That’s almost true. You’ve got to focus.

Me: My mom says that to me all the time. She loves you by the way. She wanted me to marry you.

Dr. Stork: Ignoring the last comment Aw well, tell your mom I say hi. Also, clothing. If you wear loose clothing, you can get caught up in it and that can make you fall.

Me: So you’re saying I should wear tighter clothes?

Dr. Stork: laughs Yeah, I guess so.

Me:  When it comes to cuts, burns, and other kitchen injuries, what are some fast responses that can help minimize the injuries?

Dr. Stork: Cool water for both. It will soothe a burn and clean a cut. Most importantly, though, pay attention when you’re cooking.

Me: What are your thoughts on wheelie sneaks?

Dr. Stork: On what?

Me: Wheelie. Sneaks. You know? Sneakers with wheels on the bottom?

Dr. Stork: Oh like the kids shoes?

Me: And grown ups…

Dr. Stork: For you?!? Didn’t you just mention you fall down a lot?

Me: Maybe. giggle (This is where I casually touched his chest. Like it wasn’t planned or anything. Yes, that’s right. I touched his chest. Sorry Brian. )

Dr. Stork: Well I guess focusing is the biggest thing. And practice. And wearing a helmet.

Me: I practice at the grocery store, while holding onto the cart.

Dr. Stork: That doesn’t sound like the best idea for you…

Me: My mom says the same thing.

Dr. Stork: OK, I’ll make a deal with you. You can use the wheelie sneaks if you PROMISE to wear a helmet. You can tell your mom, when you fall down and hurt yourself, but don’t get a head injury, that I said it was okay and I’m the reason that you’re alive.

Me: Hmmm…

Dr. Stork: I’m serious. If I see you in the grocery store, you better be wearing a helmet.

Me: If you see me in the grocery store and say hi, I will ALWAYS wear a helmet.

Dr. Stork: Deal.

Me: Okay. SO I asked my readers for suggestions on what to ask you…and the questions they came up with were so inappropriate I couldn’t even say them out loud to you.

Dr. Stork: laughing I plead the fifth!

Me: Don’t worry, this is the only one I could share (THANKS A LOT YOU GUYS!) What pushed you into being a celebrity doctor?

Dr. Stork: I was at a bar after work, the network sat down with us, bought some drinks. A month later I was in Paris.

Me: Alrighty then.

The lady in charge: Time’s up.

Me: Two more questions!

The lady in charge: FAST.

Me: Trick question: Is there such a thing as too much cheese?

Dr. Stork: No?

Me: Good answer (You hear that?! A doctor said cheese is good for me!) Favorite unhealthy snack. Go.

Dr. Stork: Cheese. I mean brownies.

Then he hugged me.

Dr. Travis Stork Humor Interview

Aren’t we the cutest couple ever?

So there you have it kids. He told me to pay attention and focus…apparently that’s how it’s done.

How’d I do in my first serious journalist interview with someone moderately famous? At least this time I didn’t make a complete ass of myself (unlike that one time with Jenny Lawson). Right? Right.

I was not compensated to write this post. I was given a goodie bag of products and granted the time to interview Dr. Stork.

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Rocking Out at the Windy City Soiree

Last week, I gave you a basic recap of BlogHer; then I whined; and then I whined some more. But I like to leave things on a high note, so this week is all about the joys of BlogHer and the parties and the people and the sponsors. Because shit, you guys, I really did have a great time.

My first party was before the conference. A little “Welcome to Chicago” gathering of bloggy lady friends.

Bloggy lady friends that I knew NONE of.

I left work ridic early to get to this shindiggity at Water Tower Place (a mere couple of miles from the job). I got there and realized, that I knew no one…and was kind of…on my own.

I started completing some fashion missions, because missions and competitions are fun. And so is free shit! AND PRIZES.

Bare Minerals Mascara

They really did make my lashes lashier at Bare Minerals

Sephora's Facial Recognition

Holy Crap. At Sephora, they’ll test out your face and e-mail you what make up matches your skin tone!

I ran into some ladies and we briefly exchanged names…and this girl recognized me (from Twitter, y’all…not that blog famous yet). She was SUPER nice, and then her group was on their merry way.

The Australian BeeGees

See, The Australian BeeGees

It was about time for The Australian BeeGees to perform and I thought I’d wander around aimlessly figuring out what I should do, while I worried that leaving work early was kind of silly…when out of the blue like grey clouds parting, Stacy Jill was all “hey! Come over here!” (She was the sweetie I had previously met). She noted my lost puppy look and adopted me. BOY! Was I glad she did!

From then on, I had a tribe. A tribe of ridiculously sweet lady blogger friends. For the rest of the week, I ran into Stacy EVERYWHERE…She’s the best. If you don’t know her, you should.

Milkshake from M Burger. YUM.

Milkshake from M Burger. YUM. BTW check out those lashy lashes.

We skipped the fashion show for snacks. We at ridiculous amounts of ice cream from M Burger. We raced around the mall looking for candy. We dined at Food Life. We drank wine. We laughed. We talked. We shared. Everyone gave me their gluten free snackies. (This is a trend. It’s kind of entertaining. All of my bloggy friends gave me gluten free snacks that they didn’t want.) It was exactly what I needed to ease my BlogHer anxiety. And from there I was excited. I was more than excited. I couldn’t wait!

Thanks so much to Water Tower Place, the shops, and of course, Chicagonistas MJ Tam and Beth Rosen for an AMAZING time.

By far, this was my favorite BlogHer party (official or unofficial).

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Eating Gluten-Free at a Conference (Or How I was SO Hungry at BlogHer13, that I Thought About Eating Katie)

I promise there are only a few more BlogHer13 posts left. I’m saving Dr. Travis for next week. I know that you are anxiously anticipating my afternoon with the real life McDreamy…but you must wait. PATIENCE is a VIRTUE, bitches.

It is now Thursday. My eating/digestive schedule is STILL off kilter. Why? You may ask?

Over the weekend at BlogHer, food things were tricky.

It is very annoying to have to ask about EVERY. PIECE. OF. FOOD. That enters my mouth. When I cook at home, I know what I’m eating. When we go to restaurants, they tell me what I can eat. When I go to a conference, a little sign might be there. Or a little sign might not be there. But you have to ask. About EVERYTHING.

Here are my notes for the BlogHer team on the food. Hopefully next year, I’ll be back to eating gluten.

1. I am not a vegan. I am not a vegetarian. I am a meat and cheese eating girl TESTING out a gluten-free lifestyle. Meat. Cheese. I want those. I don’t want your fake chorizo and weird scrambled tofu.

2. If you tell someone a food line is “gluten-free,” It’s best to keep the FLOUR tortillas off the line…especially when you have labeled them CORN TORTILLAS. It’s best not to have GLUTEN in the vegan stuff. Or you should have a separate line for those items. Or be VERY CLEAR that it contains gluten. I saved some girl from having a giant attack of glutening because the lady in charge of the line told me that the vegan food had gluten in it. (When I asked if I could eat eggs and meat off of the normal food line).

3. If you invite a girl to a secret special lunch, and she asks if there is gluten free food, do not wait an hour and 10 minutes into the presentation to say, “Oh, by the way…you can’t eat the main courses.” She will then leave to meet with the hot doctor and be very. very. very. hungry. And crabby. If I had known, I would have left and gone to the regular food line…

BlogHer13 Food

This does not a lunch make.

BlogHer13 Food

I could eat 1 item on this plate.

BlogHer13 Food

Sauces do not a lunch make. I wouldn’t let them take the plate until I consumed all of the nuts, the pepper and most of the rosemary. I almost bit someone’s arm off to keep it.

4. If you have an important everyone-must-go-to-this-event at dinner time. Fucking serve up some dinner. If you don’t want to serve dinner, fine. CHANGE THE TIME OF THE ALL-IMPORTANT-EVENT. ESPECIALLY…if the emcee is going to be an hour late and the event is going to run over even longer…making the end time an hour and a half later than expected. (I’m talking about Voices of the Year. And I’m talking about Queen Latifah. I was hungry and cranky. Forgive me.)

5. If someone is starving enough, they’ll eat anything. Consequences be damned. Did I ask about gluten in the sausages? The cheese fries? No. Did I care? No. Was I totally sick in the middle of the night, resulting in the very bizarre Best Buy drama day on Saturday? Yes. Do I blame gluten or grease? I don’t. Know. (Seriously, though, I slammed 4 sausages while I was in line for cheese fries, which were gone before I could even grab a glass of wine. Which was good, because then I had 2 hands for the calming effects of wine and water–by water I mean the Chicago River, which Katie and I snuggled on a bench in front of with our beverages.)

6. A gluten free line with deli meat that is not labeled as gluten free frightens me after I was told that there was gluten on the same line the day before. So I did not eat lunch. I was sick anyways, so that was a moot point anyway. I skipped the keynote in order to eat food. I felt a lot better.

While I’m still feeling the effects of this weekend’s weird food schedule, I’ve come to the conclusion that I may not need a gluten-free diet. I thought that I felt better, but it could just be the fact that I was eating much healthier…we’ll see. I’m giving it 2 more months (So October 1, I’ll be enjoying some type of gluten to discover the results.)

Did you go to BlogHer? Tell me about your food experiences?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

Let Me Tell You a Little Story About This One Time at BlogHer…

As you may know are obviously aware, I was at BlogHer this weekend. As you may also know, I am. The world’s. Biggest. Flake.

Shit happens to me. I can’t explain how. Or why. But crazy things happen to me. That’s what you love about me, amiright?

Background story

So on Saturday, I was not feeling great at all. Friday night was a whirlwind of hungry, and I slammed 4 different sausages and some cheese fries (be damned what was in any of it…I was fucking hungry) at about 9pm. Then some wine and lamb chops at Queerosphere, and by midnight when I passed out, I thought all would be great with the world. I had a not-so-fun 4am “wake up call” from my body. Either there was gluten in the food or the mass quantities of greasy food were not thrilled with me.

I had spent the last 3 day exhausted.

I digress. On to Saturday.

I wore the worst bra ever, which I snuck off behind a curtain to remove at about 10:30 in the morning. I was bra-less. In Yoga pants. And happy. Sort of.

So I was tired. And not feeling great. And for some idiotic reason, I don’t think I drank enough water. So by 2:30 in the afternoon, I was BEAT. My head hurt. I had vertigo like nobody’s business. And I was done with the sessions and the expo floor.So I headed down to the bus to go take a nap. And got on the bus. Except that Walgreens tweeted me to say, “What’s up?! You won our bag o’ drugs!” Ok, not real drugs, y’all. Vitamins and pain reliever and allergy meds. HELL YES.  And I was a WINNER. So I climbed off the bus. Dragged my ass upstairs. And retrieved my prize. Which was TOTALLY worth it.

If I was smart, at this point I would have checked my spam folder to see if That One Other Company That I Signed Up to Win a Contest With was saying “What’s up?! You won something fucking sweet!” because I had been bugging them all day to win and they were scared of me. (The guy LITERALLY said, “You scarin’ me!” But he was joking and I wasn’t REALLY scary. I was just all, “I wanna win!” in a happy, cheerful, very non-scary way.) But I didn’t.

And I crawled back to the bus. Tired. Ready for a nap, some dramamine and some water. I got back to the hotel room, with 4 bags full of joyful swag. and my key wouldn’t work.

Motherfuck.

Instead of walking back down to the lobby, I called from my cell phone. I told the guy I wasn’t feeling well and just wanted to sleep. He even offered to send up tea, along with a new key.

Security came up. They checked to make sure I was me. And then I got into my room. I took off my shoes and my shirt (I had a white tank top on under it, though!) I called Brian, chugged a TON of water, laid down for a good half hour, waiting for my key and my tea. I checked my e-mail and my spam folder.

And Oh. My. God.

I had won.

I won the Grand Prize from That One Company.

I had to be there before 5 to claim it. I responded, I’m at the hotel! I’ll be there soon! The adrenaline changed how I felt instantly (okay, and the gallon of water I had been slamming).

I jumped up. I put shoes on. I ran out the door.

For those of you not keeping track, I was bra-less. I was practically shirt-less. And I was definitely key-less.

Yes. I ran out of the hotel room and didn’t realize until I started to run toward the elevator that my tits were bouncing around like nobody’s business in a see-through white tank top. Awesome.

I considered going anyway. Because it was now 4:30. And I had 30 minutes to claim my grand prize.

I asked the maid to let me in. She said no. But she called security for me.

At that moment, Katie arrived. And she sensed my panic and asked if everything was okay. I think words came out of my mouth to explain, but I’m not sure. I put a bra and a shirt on, and raced out. And then raced back in because I forgot my conference badge.

I raced to the bus. I told them that I had won the GRAND PRIZE I needed to get back to the conference center by 5. The lady sounded impressed and she said, “Well go now!” And she told the driver to leave. It was like a movie.

We left and had a lovely chat as I caught my breath.

I arrived at the conference center, just in the knick of time. I ran up the escalator. I ran to the booth.

It was the moment when I told them I was the Grand Prize winner and I heard them utter the words, “Caribbean blue,” that I knew…

I was about to receive something I didn’t want. Something I didn’t need.

An iPhone 5 case. For my Samsung Galaxy III. I told them as much. So they gave me the EXACT. SAME. Galaxy IIII case that they had given me earlier. Except this one didn’t come with the free matching nail polish.

I can’t blame them, because I mean…shit guys, it was free stuff. But maybe they shouldn’t label every prize as a GRAND prize. Regardless, they were really nice…and the humor of the story is HOW I got there…not WHAT I got there.

Tell me blog friends, what would you have done in my situation?

Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!

BlogHer13: The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

As I’m still wrecked from this weekend, this will likely be the shortest of my BlogHer posts. A recap, even. But there will be more. So if you don’t want to hear about BlogHer, I suggest you return in August. When I start talking about GenCon. I know. Lucky you.

The Good

  • Queen Latifah emceed the Voices of the Year.
  • I got to spend some quality time with some of my favorite bloggers (and my best friend!)
  • I have a RIDICULOUS number of blog posts pre-written in my head. Including my very own interview with the glorious Dr. Travis Stork. Go ahead. If you don’t know who he is…Google him. But Google Image that shit, because DAYYYYUUUMMMM.
  • The Pioneer Woman, Pillsbury Doughboy, Optimus Prime and Me.
Pillsbury doughboy at BlogHer13

hee hee!

The Pioneer Woman at BlogHer13

I was SO much less obnoxious meeting her than I was with Jenny Lawson.

Seriously. Fucking Optimus Prime.

Seriously. Fucking Optimus Prime.

  • I got to meet Thoughts From Paris DJ. Who I can’t not call Paris. Because that’s his name in my head. And he (kinda) knew who I was. Which pleased me.
  • I got a LOT of free shit. I know it’s bad form to say I was all over the swag, but just like a pack of wild dogs on a 3-legged cat…I was AAAAALLLL up in the free shit business.
BlogHer13 Swag

That’s me…Hanging out with SOME of my free stuff. I went home with a double full suitcase, a duffel bag and 6 grocery bags full of stuff…which we then crammed into the car.

  • The best party? Queerosphere. They had cheese cheese and more cheese. And lamb chops. Best food I ate all weekend.
  • Somehow I made my way into the Disney movie party. And saw Delivery Man. A few months early.

The Bad

  • Queen Latifah was late.
  • I was almost always hungry.
  • I was tired.
  • I didn’t feel like I really related to a lot of the speakers that I saw. And then I couldn’t see them all because I had other places to be and things to do. It was a bit on the overwhelming side.
  • I was really hungry.

The Ugly

  • Queen Latifah was SO late that I was starving AND missed Austenland (though I DID still get the free bag and t-shirt)
  • OK, mostly I was always starving because of this gluten free nonsense. (Hey BlogHer, I’ve got some suggestions for next year! Actually, I’ve got a whole blog post about food coming up.)
  • Mostly I was Starving. With a capital S.
  • Did I mention how much I missed food? And eating on a regular schedule that included dinner?
  • The Best Buy Story. Tomorrow. You’ll see.
Hey! Did you know you can buy my book on Amazon? 37 women wrote about the struggle for perfection, and I'm one of 'em. Go check it out!