Blogging, Buddies + Boas: BlogHer ’09 [Saturday]

by Jenn (eating bender) on July 26, 2009

It was another great day at BlogHer ’09!


The morning got off to a good start when I arrived at the hotel to meet Kath for breakfast and discovered fresh pots of Quaker oatmeal lining the breakfast buffet! I loaded up on oatmeal, brown sugar and plenty of fresh fruit.


The selection was quite abundant – pineapple, canteloupe, cherries, blueberries, blackberries, strawberries…it definitely made up for the cookie + wine Friday night dinner. I also had a cup of coffee – couldn’t find the cocoa this morning, so it wasn’t quite as good πŸ˜‰


The morning keynote featured a panel led by Lisa Stone (one of BlogHer’s founders) that discussed how traditional media is dealing with the “new media calling.” One of the most interesting tidbits I picked up is that now, more than ever, advertisers are moving their budgets away from print newspapers and glossy magazines and putting all of their focus and energy into online mediums. With my background in and love for journalism, it makes me sad to consider what the newspapers and magazines are going to look like in 2, 5 or even 10 years from now. Don’t get me wrong, I love the online space and everything that comes with it – but the physical pieces of journalism are important to me, too.


After the keynote, Kath and I made our way to Break-Out Session #1. Today’s session was called Business of You: Advanced Social Media, Syndication and Stats. The panel discussed a lot of advanced social media and suggested that bloggers utilize certain tools to boost their influence in the blogosphere. Some of these included:

I honestly have never used any of these! My best friend has always been Google Reader when it comes to keeping up with my favorite blogs. I’m curious, have you? If so, what’s your opinion?


After the first session, I wandered around the hotel a bit and met up with Kath again in the MicroSpa (from Microsoft) after her massage :) I snacked on some hummus and veggies that I found there.


We were hoping to meet a certain famous celebrity chef before lunch, but her flight was delayed, so we headed out to the buffet. Today’s theme was Mexican food – and the selection was amazing!


I loaded up on greens topped with salsa, guacamole and refried beans. But I also had to try a tamale, which was filled with cornmeal and shredded beaf. It was so. darn. good!


Kath and I decided to split the desserts again. There were four to choose from, but we settled on the Tres Leches and Chocolate Silken Coconut Cake.


We found a table and dined al fresco near the Chicago river. Doesn’t get more beautiful on a nice day!


After lunch, we made our way back into the exhibition hall and found our celeb: PAULA DEEN!!!!


This woman is just as funny, sweet and charming as she is on television, y’all πŸ˜‰

The celeb sighting was such a blast, and then it was time to go to Break-Out Session #2. This one appealed to the niche blogger in me: FoodBlogging in the Time of Recession.


This panel was run by some big names in the food blog world: Elise Bauer, Stephanie O’Dea, Deborah Hamilton,Β  Michelle Lentz, and Hetal Jannu.

The panelists wanted to focus on ways of saving money while still cooking quality meals during the recession. Topics ranged from how to still “eat green” on a budget to how to use up leftover wine: freeze it in an ice cube tray and use the cubes to marinate meat! Who knew?

The best part about the session was the fact that many of the food bloggers in the audience also shared their expertise. Check out The Perfect Pantry, $5 Dinners, Once a Month Mom and Food Blog Search for some great information and recipes!

The final break-out session of the day was called How to Get the Most from the BlogHer Publishing Network. The most interesting thing they discussed was the new FTC Guidelines that could impact the way bloggers such as ourselves receive and review products from brands. Check out this BusinessWeek article for more information on the specifics.

You can read more about the issue in Kath’s post, but in the spirit of full disclosure, I just would like to remind everyone that if I ever eat a product that has been sent to me by a company, you will know it. I strive for 100% transparency on this blog with regard to featured products, giveaways, etc. and would never want to compromise my integrity and the integrity of Eating Bender by being dishonest with you. When I give reviews, they are my honest opinion. But I have to ask (in the hopes that it will only benefit you), what are your opinions of the product reviews and giveaways on my blog? Are they helpful?

Sorry for the tangent, but this issue seemed to be a big point of tension for many of the bloggers at the conference, and I think it needs to be discussed, especially if it affects your opinion of me or my blog in any way. Yes, it’s “cool” to get the chance to try free products, but ultimately, I write reviews because I want you to know about these products and whether or not they are worth your while. I will only write about something if I feel it fits in with what my blog is about: food and living, with a specific focus on the healthy, simple or cost-efficient.


Let’s insert a deep breathe right here.

Good :)

After the last session, I wandered around the hotel a bit more and headed down to the exhibition area to see if there were any snacks. Great idea, since I found cookies the size of my head…


I got one peanut butter and one oatmeal raisin to share with Kath. They were both excellent! We spent a little time at the closing keynote, and then headed down to the first floor promenade for the last event of the conference: the closing cocktail party. I grabbed a small glass of white wine and we headed back outside to stand by the Chicago river again. This hotel has a nice view!


We decided to forgo any of the appetizers because we knew that something even more exciting was to come: blogger dinner at Kamehachi with my good friend Mara, MizFit, Roni, Kath and Mary!!!


The sushi restaurant had a great atmosphere, and we decided to share as a table. We started with the seaweed salad, Mara’s goma and fresh edamame.


Then we got a sushi platter to split amongst the six of us that included: Alaskan Maki, Crazy Chicago Roll, New York Maki, Spicy Salmon Roll, Tekka Maki (tuna) and the Sunset Roll.


I tried and loved each of them, but I think my favorite was the Sunset Roll. It had smoked salmon and a dot of peanut sauce on top which gave it the most striking flavor.


What a treat – it was such a special and delicious dinner. We snapped pictures of each side of the table: Kath, me, Mara, Mary, Roni and Mizzz Carla :)


I left a little early with Kath because we found out that TravelingMom had hooked us up with passes into the Lucky Strike BowlHer party. Thanks again!!


When we got there, the party was already packed with happy people :) The best part? I found out that donations were being made to Autism Speaks. As many of you know, my brother has mild autism, and knowing that the fun was going to a good cause…well, it made it even more fun!


I had another glass of white wine and snacked on a small piece of tomato + mozzarella pizza, a chicken skewer and a few handfuls of graham Goldfish, one of the sponsors. Kath and I were also able to walk down a red carpet sporting pink boas. Yes, tiaras and boas in one weekend…who am I?!


We hung around for a bit to take advantage of some great free samples, then headed back to the hotel to meet up with Kath’s readers – all of whom live in Chicago! One lovely lady has her own blog, MarathonVal, and the others are thinking about it (right, ladies?!). They were all super nice and I really hope that they contact me (hint, hint) because I would love to have more people to hang out with in the city!!

We all headed up to another unofficial BlogHer party called CheeseburgHer!


McDonald’s cheeseburgers and white wine = the perfect party companions πŸ˜‰ I decided just to have a small splash of white wine because for some reason, the smell of cheeseburger (though admittedly delicious) reminded all of us of nights spent in college dorm rooms.

Good news? I picked up about 10 free burger coupons for Bobby. He’s pretty happy. Thanks ladies!

And that was that…phew, hope it didn’t take you as long to read this as it took me to write it! The Internet in my new apartment is moving at a snail’s pace!

I really am so thankful to have been given the opportunity to attend this conference. As I enter into a career in PR, the conference helped me learn that the key to effective relationships between bloggers and PR professionals is mutual research and respect for each other. As a blogger, I’ve renewed my passion for writing posts and interacting with others in the blogosphere. This community continues to amaze and astound me every day, and I am 100% thrilled to be a part of it.

R + R,


1 VeggieGirl July 26, 2009 at 1:57 pm

Paula Deen AND a Tres Leches Cake in one place??? Too good to be true πŸ˜€

2 Betsy July 26, 2009 at 1:59 pm

I’ve been loving reading your BlogHer recaps and so wishing I could have been there. What an amazing experience! Thanks for sharing so much and yes, I always appreciate your honest reviews and opinions… keep it up!

3 MarathonVal July 26, 2009 at 2:07 pm

Hi Jenn, it was so fun to finally meet you last night! We definitely should make a plan for a run or drinks sometime. You’ll have to let me know what your work schedule looks like and when you have free time :)

Also I love the tip about freezing wine to use for marinades, etc – so clever! We are used to having a bit of wine leftover and either chugging it (classy, huh?) or pitching it (wasteful). I would love to hear the other tips they mentioned!

4 Ada Rubin July 26, 2009 at 2:16 pm

I’m glad you had a fun time, it looks like it was an absolute blast:)

5 Shelby July 26, 2009 at 2:25 pm

Paula Deen?! That would be a riot!

6 elise July 26, 2009 at 2:35 pm

i think some people always review products that are sent to them in a positive light, but i know who those people are…and some people are more honest, and their opinions are more reliable. i guess it just depends on who has similar taste buds, and an opinion you trust.

sounds like a fun weekend so far…

ps im a google reader gal myself, even though it gave me some serious probz when i switched to wordpress.

7 Alison July 26, 2009 at 2:43 pm

BlogHer sounds like so much fun! I wish my blog was serious enough to justify going. The podcasters on one of my fav podcasts (manic mommies) went to and it sounds really interesting.

8 jenngirl July 26, 2009 at 2:48 pm

Wow Jenn, this was a wonderful recap, you really described everything so well!! Thanks for sharing so much with us, and I’m so glad you got to enjoy this awesome opportunity!

I personally love reading your opinion about anything and everything you write about, you are very professional, honest, and un-biased when it comes to giving us your thoughts.

Hope you get some major R and R after a fun-filled weekend! :)

9 verbalriot July 26, 2009 at 2:52 pm

I completely agree with you about print journalism. I got into the major because I love the feeling of the tangible newspaper and holding a paper in my hands! And even though I love the advancement of technology that is helping our society become more efficient and in so many ways, I’m not attracted to news online and things like the Amazon kindle…I hope some papers survive!

And I also use GoogleReader, I haven’t heard of the other ones!

10 Natalie July 26, 2009 at 2:53 pm

It looks like you had such a great time and learned alot too!

The food looks so good too :) I want some sushi and tamales!!

11 Mara @ What's For Dinner? July 26, 2009 at 2:54 pm

I had so much fun last night!! I really wish I’d have come to the BowlHer and CheezburgHer parties, since I ended up seeing my friend for all of 10 minutes. Oh well…next year in New York, right??

12 Linda July 26, 2009 at 2:55 pm

I started reading food blogs because the voyeuristic side of me was curious to see how other people really eat (sans sponsorships and free samples), and in the process, I discover new foods and different lifestyles. When a blogger starts getting “a lot” of freebies, and is able to incorporate the products into their diets on a consistent basis, I start viewing that blog more like a blogazine – a combination of sharing personal information as well as product reviews like one will find in a magazine. Nothing wrong with that at all. Just different.

13 *Andrea* July 26, 2009 at 2:58 pm

i love your giveaways and product reviews, but you do bring up aninteressitng point. i sometimes wonder if blogs are honest about products – meaning if they normally eat them or are getting paid etc etc

14 Jess July 26, 2009 at 4:07 pm

Thank you for recapping BlogHer so well! I want to go next year so badly – I wish I could get sponsored to go!

I like giveaways and product reviews – I do them on my blog but I do need to put together a disclaimer. Most of my things I buy myself unless I mention that it was sent to me by someone. I usually do that so that it’s transparent where my reviews are coming from. I also like to mention how much something cost and would I buy it myself.

15 Ruth Rogers July 26, 2009 at 4:14 pm

I am absolutely loving reading all the info about blogher. Thanks for sharing some of the stuff you have learned. I wish I could have been there so it’s been nice to read up on what others are learning. It seems like you had a great time there. I love all the pictures… so jealous of the McDonalds hambuger and wine party :)

16 inmytummy July 26, 2009 at 5:01 pm

I work in print advertising and it is very scary to hear of all of these magazines and newspapers folding.

I use google reader too.

17 Bec July 26, 2009 at 5:23 pm

sounds like so much fun! I am so jealous you got to see paula dean in person!

18 bobbi July 26, 2009 at 5:47 pm

great post Jen!!!

19 glidingcalm July 26, 2009 at 5:54 pm

So much fun!!! I’m so jealous (again) that you had such a fabulous bloggy event to attend this weekend!! How did you get tickets, btw??

Lucky Strike!! I hear that is a pretty cool place!!

haha Micky D burgers and wine?! What?! so random!!

hurray for oatmeal, and sushi, and mexican food (tamales!!!), and veggies with HUUUUMMMUS.

Again, I’m so glad you had a blasty!!
Miss you Jennboo!

20 Hangry Pants July 26, 2009 at 6:12 pm

Hi Jenn! Your BlogHer adventures were such fun to read about. I am jealous of course. πŸ˜€

21 Tricia July 26, 2009 at 7:00 pm

It was great meeting you this weekend. Great post and fabulous pictures! Can’t wait to have time to read more.

22 eatingbirdfood July 26, 2009 at 7:59 pm

Thanks for the blogher09 recap and sharing some of the tidbits that you learned. I definitely want to check out some of those websites and I would LOVE to go to next year’s conference- I just need to find myself a sponsor! :) A girl can dream right?

I saw Kath’s post on the product reviews and giveaways as well and I think they are a great part of the food blog world. I’ve found out about so many new products through blogs and I think the reviews are interesting and helpful. So long as the blogger honestly reviews the products I don’t see anything wrong with it.

23 eatingbirdfood July 26, 2009 at 8:14 pm

P.S. I totally agree about the physical pieces of journalism. There’s something different about reading a paperback that is much better than reading a novel online. And I love the glossy pages of magazines. I’d be bummed if all print media moved online.

24 buffmuffy July 26, 2009 at 8:27 pm

i love reading product reviews as i said on kath’s blog. they are so insightful!
i use google reader too, but i dont really know about any other reading things … lol.

25 broccolihut July 26, 2009 at 10:30 pm

Wow, amazing programming, accompanied by amazing eats! Quite an experience.

26 Sarah (LovIN My Tummy) July 26, 2009 at 10:37 pm

I am so glad you came back refreshed and reinspired with Eating Bender! Your blog has always been one of my favorites and I hope you are able to take it exactly where you want it to go. You are such a star, I have no doubt that will happen.

Did Paula smell like butter?

27 Rebeca July 27, 2009 at 2:35 am

Girl… your blog is great just the way it is… afterall it’s YOUR blog and I think you’re genuine and honest in your reviews and I think they’re really helpful!

28 Lara (Thinspired) July 27, 2009 at 6:42 am

Hi Jenn! Thanks for sharing about your BlogHer experiences! It just looks like such a blast! I love the pictures of all you girls at dinner :)

29 Shannon (The Daily Balance) July 27, 2009 at 8:02 am

such a fun experience! I have already promised myself I’ll be attending next year πŸ˜‰

30 HeatherBakes July 27, 2009 at 9:04 am

What a fun trip!!! I’m drooling over all of the food… and you got to see Paula Deen! Jealous :)

31 MizFit July 27, 2009 at 9:54 am

LOVED meeting you in person this weekend.

cant wait till BlogHer 10. Fitbloggin? you come to texas?!

32 Diana (Soapa & Chocolate) July 27, 2009 at 10:26 am

WOW what an event. So glad you got to attend and tell us all about it! I have been hearing those rumblings about new FTC guidelines so thank you for addressing it. I think it will become much more obvious how it affects us in the coming months!

FUN STUFF! Glad I got to attend via your blog. πŸ˜‰

33 catruns July 27, 2009 at 11:59 am

Leftover wine? What is this confusion you speak of? :) Sounds like great session. Something I need help with!
I don’t really understand why giveaway/product reviews are bad, to be honest, but I’ve never really been able to take advantage of either… Never won a giveaway and my food budget is too tight to find room for most of what I find reviewed. I do enter giveaways all the time though!

34 ttfn300 July 27, 2009 at 5:51 pm

i use google reader, too. never heard of some of those others… i’m avoiding facebook and twitter too… maybe i’m doomed πŸ˜‰

35 Kath July 27, 2009 at 8:28 pm

Loved reading your post!!!!

36 lookingforserenity July 27, 2009 at 8:37 pm

gosh! that food looks soooooo good!

37 Mary :: A Merry Life July 28, 2009 at 10:22 am

Sushi was really fun. I’m a bit jealous you saw Paula Deen… I love her!

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