Chicago + #BlogherFood2015

Its has been a week since I have been back from #BlogHer 2015 and my head has been spinning with all the things I want to accomplish. I thought since I told you why I wanted to go to #BlogherFood15, I should tell you all about it.

Let’s start with my flight to Chicago Friday morning.  The conference was in Chicago, a 45 minute flight from Minneapolis. To save money I decided it would be better to take the early morning flight to Chicago instead of getting a hotel for a 3rd night.  Seemed like a great plan until I arrived at the airport at 4:10 am, get to the gate and they announce the plane is delayed until 11am.  As hard as many of the other passengers and I tried, there really was no way to get out of Minneapolis before 11am.  Which meant that I was not only going to have to sit in the airport for 6 hours, but miss the first half day of the 2 day conference.

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I did keep myself surprisingly busy during those 6 hours. I had breakfast at Ike’s restaurant. The breakfast burrito hit the spot, but the mouse that ran across the floor right behind my suitcase after the dishes were cleared, scared me right out of the restaurant.  I have seen mice in restaurants before, in Asia… not the MSP airport.

Lucky for me my friend Kayla {and co-worker} was flying to Asia coincidentally the same morning as me, and we met in the airport for her to get breakfast and me to have a drink. Much needed after the mouse incident…

After another 1 1/2 hour flight delay, our plane finally took off for Chicago.  Let’s just say that a flight that was supposed to leave at 5am and didn’t until 1:30pm, didn’t really make too many people happy.  Me being one of them. I really tried to keep a positive attitude through it all, but I was extremely disappointed that I missed a big portion of the conference.  I really wanted to meet as many fellow bloggers as I could.

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Once in Chicago things really started to look up.

After taking my phone off airplane mode, this re-gram was the first thing I saw.  I have never been re-gramed before, let alone, by the account of the big conference I was headed off to attend.  I actually did have people come up to me and tell me they were glad I finally made it. #toocool

Then my cab driver was speedy and got me to the conference quickly. He also found time to share with me his political views on the upcoming Presidential Election. Take the good with the bad…

Finally, a doorman met me at the door of the hotel to check my bag, and I was able to head straight into the conference. No hassle of checking to my room right away and missing even more time.  I arrived in time for the last 2 sessions of the day, and one break with sponsors.

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While in the last session of the day, I found myself at a table with Amisha from Naive Cook Cooks and we made fast blog friends {she didn’t make the selfie above}. From there we found ourselves making friends with Shawn from Shrederella, Felesha from Say Grace Blog and Camela, who is currently working on getting her blog up and running {I totally will share when she is fully launched!}.  All 5 of us gravitated toward each other the same table during cocktail hour, and were still there  an hour after the cocktail bar had been torn down and the after party started.

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I was extremely refreshing to be surrounded by others trying to do the same things I was trying to do. We spent so much time swapping stories, pulling each others blogs up on our phones to give some thoughts and insights, and over all get to know each other.

At some point in our long gab session, someone mentioned being hungry and we pulled ourselves out of our chat to find that the Karaoke after-party had already started!  We danced, ate desserts from Otis Spunkmeyer {who was previewing a upcoming line of deserts with us}, drank cocktails from Vita {delish} and sang the next few hours away.

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I completely crashed at 11pm, after being up since 3:30am. I was very thankful that the next mornings sessions did not start until 9:30am.  Sleep was much needed after such an eventful day.

Day 2 of #BlogherFood15 was packed yet again with great content and some great chats with event sponsors.  I had an opportunity to talk to sponsors like Back to the Roots {and got really excited about their partnership with Target}, Baileys Creamer {and enter into their Twitter contest}, Chila Orchata {yummy}, Weight Watchers and so many more.  I am looking forward to creating partnerships with some of these brands to bring everyone recipes and more giveaways.

The opening morning session was called “Achieving Long-term Blogging Happiness”, where seasoned bloggers gave their thoughts on staying happy in the blog world with all the changes, demands and new tools.  I loved this session because it really focused on doing what you can and being happy with that, instead of comparing yourself to everyone else.  I know that I constantly focus on everyone else and am too critical of myself. I am hoping to keep their words top of mind as I continue to go on this journey.

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During the day I attended 2 breakout sessions, one focused on building connections between brands and blogs, and the other focused on finding your own creative voice while blogging.  I took away a lot of notes from both of these sessions as well as good validation on what I already have been working on.

Lunch was an excursion to Eataly, which was a magical food store downtown Chicago. Not only did we spend time browsing the great selection, I had this delicious bowl of fresh pasta.  There were so many recipe ideas going through my mind while at the store, but with suitcase space limited and the TSA’s regulations on liquids, I needed to pass on buying anything.  I am not going to lie, I have already shopped the website of Eataly to see if there was anything I could buy and have shipped to me.

The keynote speaker, Sarah Michelle Gellar, closed the conference. I know that an actress doesn’t seem like the likely candidate for a keynote speaker at a Food Conference.  Sarah Michelle started a company called Foodstirs focused on getting kids into the kitchen with their parents, learning from cooking, and doing it in a way that is chemical free and organic food.  She was bubbly and friendly, and truly excited about her new adventure.  It was good to hear from a fellow female entrepreneur about struggles and how to charge through them.

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Now the highlight of the conference for me and MANY of the other food bloggers was the closing party hosted by some of the biggest bloggers in the game, Elise Bauer from Simply Recipes, Jaden Hair from Steamy Kitchen and Ree Drummond from The Pioneer Woman.  Obviously many of us were excited to get our photo taken with Ree. She has been such an inspiration to so many bloggers out there on what you can make of this business if you really put your heart and soul into it, me being one of them.  She also is one of the sweetest people to meet in person. She even showed me the missing diamond in her wedding band {for you avid followers, you know what I am talking about}.

The fabulous hostesses really did know how to throw a party too.  The event was held at The Underground Chicago, a popular night spot. In addition to the fabulous company, there was also food flowing all night. Very fitting for a food blogger conference. The invite said “heavy appetizers” and they were not kidding. I am so glad I didn’t eat dinner before. And then there was the music. It was super fun to dance the night away for a second time with my new blog friends, as well as the hostesses of the party. Yup, we totally danced elbow to elbow to MJ with Ree, Jaden and Elise. Memories that will last forever.

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Finally back in my room for the night, I decided to take inventory of my loot from the conference before packing my bag to go home. Note to self, next time pack less clothes and more space for goodies!  I had snacks, coupons, giveaways, and lots of business cards to take home with me.  Not pictured is the beautiful william-sonoma copper bowl I won in a drawing from SheKnows.  I still have not worked my way through all the treats, can’t wait to try them all!

Overall, my first blog conference was a huge success! Although I missed a portion of the conference, I took so much away from the sessions and even more from the friendships I have made. I can’t wait to setup google hangouts with my blogger girls and help each other grow our businesses!

I also can’t wait for you all to see what I have in store for you! Stay tuned!

XoXo-

Rachel 

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About Rachel

Country girl turned urbanite. Finding ways to mess up my kitchen, keep my country roots and explore all that city living offers!

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