Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Mixed up at Mixed Con!

As most of you know, at the end of November I had the pleasure of attending my very first food blogger's conference in the rolling Virignia hills.  MixedCon was held at the infamous Mountain Lake Hotel in Pembroke, Virginia.
No, your eyes are not deceiving you.  You are looking at THE Kellerman's Mountain House.  Yes, the one from the movie Dirty Dancing.  "Hello, Mr. Kellerman!"  Yup, that's we were spent this wonderful, funfilled weekend.  I know what you're thinking.  Eeekk is right!
On a Friday afternoon about 150 food bloggers took Mountain Lake by storm.  I honestly don't think they knew what they were getting themselves into when they agreed to host this conference!  150 (mostly female...well, 2 males to be exact) poured into the quiet, mountainess hills reenacting scenes from Dirty Dancing, using up every. Single. Ounce of band with available and giddy to meet all of wonderful bloggers we had come to "know" through the blogging world.  The staff at the hotel were incredible, so nice and accommodating and ready to help in any way possible.
Upon arriving at the Roanoke airport, the conference attendees instantly started spotting one another and introducing themselves.  We got so carried away getting acquainted and visiting in the airport we actually had our shuttle waiting for quite some time...ooops!  We quickly loaded our luggage and got on the shuttle and started the trip to the mountain.  The entire trip to the hotel was filled with constant chatter, everyone so excited about meeting one another, the conference and everything in store. 
The girls I roomed with, along with 3 other attendees, I "know" from an on-line cooking board.  It was great to finally be able to meet some of these people I talk to on a daily basis!  Lucky for me, they were just as nice in person as they are on-line.  Amy, author of What's Brewing in the Kitchen, Heather, author of Hezzi D's Books and Cooks Maeghan, author of The Way To His Heart, Liz, author of  Books-N-Cooks, and Stephanie, author of  Brownies and Blondies were all absolutely amazing.  Just as wonderful as I expected!   
When we entered our room we were greeted with even more swag from our amazing sponsors!  After we got settled we visited and sorted through our swag bags.  I must say, Wow and a huge thanks to all of the incredible sponsors.  Ya'll really loaded us up with some fabulous stuff!  A big kuddos to OXO, KitchenAid, Dixie Crystals,  Real Butter, Dreamfields, Attune Foods, Hershey's, Way Better Snacks, Lucky Leaf, Creminelli, Roland Foods, Stonyfield, Harvard Common Press, Le Creuset, Duff Goldman, Edgeware, John Boos, Boos Butcher Blocks, Dreamfarm, California Raisins, Anderson Seafood, Wisconsin Cheese and Captain Morgan!  Ya'll help make the weekend!


After we chatted for a bit and sorted through all of our goodies we headed down to the cocktail hour sponsored by Wisconsin Cheese.  We enjoyed some delicious cheeses, wonderful salami from Creminelli, sipped on some wine and met some of the other incredibly talented ladies attending the conference. 
 
After the cocktail hour, was dinner, then we headed over to the barn to enjoy some fabulous cocktails from Captain Morgan's and munch on some cookies.  More visiting and introduction went on for a bit, but not too long since everyone was ready for our midnight mac and cheese party.  Ali, the author of Gimme Some Oven, won the contest put on by Dreamfields for the best mac and cheese.  Be sure to check out the winning recipe for her vegetable mac and cheese.  It's delish!
 
Saturday was jam packed with fun (and educational) sessions with some of my foodie icons!  First up-photography with the amazing and incredibly talented Bree Hester of Baked Bree. (Let me just say, she doens't give herself enough credit for just how talented she is...don't be fooled by her humility...she's awesome!)  Bree who is a foodie and professional photographer spent time going over various topics suchs as ISO, aperature, and lighting.  It was a great way to start off the day and I walked away from this session with quite a few tips that will come in handy!

Next up was a session dedicated to holiday cookie decorating.  The wildly talented Marian, of Sweetopia not only taughts us tricks, tips and techniques to use when decorating sugar cookies, she also demonstrated her techniques for us.  Talk about someone who is so sweet and so nice, Marian is the real deal.  She re-instilled my confidence and gave me the courage to go home and try frosting sugar cookies again.  Before this session I had lost all hope that I could frost, fill and flood cookies.  Thanks to Marian, I went home and successfully lined and flooded cookies for my little man's 3rd birthday.  Thanks, Marian!
The third session of the day, the last one before lunch, was videography.  Denise Woodward and Lenny Ferreira of Chez Us educated us in the ever so indepth world of videography.  Wow.  I have so far to go before I even think about trying to tackle the world of video.  (Note to readers...it'll be a LONG time before you hear any words spoken from this southern girl)  I did, however, learn so much from Lenny, as well as, had a few lot of laughs along the way.  Be sure to check out their blog for terrific video footage, as well as some delicious recipes!



After lunch we had some free time.  Myself, along with Heather, took this time to wonder the grounds, take a self guided Dirty Dancing tour (and along the way I just may have envisioned myself as Baby...that's for me to know and you to never find out)!



The house where baby and her family stayed, while at Kellerman's!
This rock was a tribute to the late, Patrick Swayze.  It was placed on the path the leads guests through the self-guided Dirty Dancing tour. 
I also took some time to read up on the mystery of Mountain Lake.  That's right, the lake that was a staple in the movie was dry. gone. Vanished.  It was a little eerie looking out where the lake should be and seeing high weeds and grass.  Hopefully it'll fill up again soon...and maybe I'll have a chance to visit again and see the flowing waters.
After touring the grounds, it was time to head back to the next session of the day.  Cake decorating with Duff and his gang.  That's right, we got to actually decorate side by side with Duff, Mary Smith and Elana!  Duff and the girls are just as down to earth as they appear to be on their show.  I had a blast cake decorating as well as chatting with him and the girls.  They are all a hoot and so fun to be around.  He was even nice enough to provide us with some fondant, icing and other supplies to take home! 
 
The next to last session of the day was all about food styling.  Just how do they make the food on the magazines and websites so pretty?  Well, we learned all about it from fellow food blogger and professional food stylist Tami Hardeman of Running with Tweezers.  Tami shared great insights about how the pros make the food look so great, but also shared some wonderful tips for the homecook.  I have already tried to implement some of the tips and tricks she shared with us.
 
The final session of the day was e-books.  The amazing and talented Heidi Larson, of Foodie Crush, schooled us in the ins and outs of ebooks.  She informed us on how to get started in the e-book phenomenon, how to organize our materials and layout of the book, and finally how to market the finished product.  During this session the wheels in my tiny, little brain started spinning and I came up (with what I thought) were some pretty nifty ideas for an ebook.  Don't start holding your breath yet, I've still got a ways to go before I have any type of book out there!
*Be sure to check out Heidi's e-magazine that's all about food and foodies, Foodie Crush Magazine

Throughout the day booths were set up with different snacks and goodies from our sponors.  We were able to sample different products, stock up on samples, and chat with the reps throughout the day.  I know all of you are familiar with Hershey's so I don't even need to begin to tell you about all the prodcuts they have to offer...I'll just say that they hooked us up!  Way Better Snacks specializes in healthy(ier) snacks and they are making a splash into the food scene.  They provided all sorts of goodies for us throughout the weekend, and I must say their sweet potato chips and sweet chili chips are amazing.  You must try them.  Thanks so much to all the vendors that made sure we didn't go hungry while we were getting our learn on all through the day Saturday.

After the final session wound up we took a minute to go unload all our goodies.  We then headed down to another wonderful cocktail hour, followed by dinner and then headed on over to the barn for another mixer.  We had more yummy drinks from the wonderful and generous Captain Morgan, some live music from a local band, and lots of giveaways from our more than generous sponsors.  Oh yeah, I was once of the lucky winners too!  Wooohoooo!
I had a terrific time sipping cocktails, scoring a great prize and getting to mingle with some of the other fabulous and talented ladies.  I also got to chat up some of the reps of the sponsors; they are amazing and beyond nice.  It was so nice getting to talk with the Lizs (yes 2) from Dreamfields and Kimberly from Dixie Crystals, just to mention a few.  I also got to talk to some talented bloggers, as well, Erin of Eat Bake Drink Cook, Mackenzie of Susie Freaking Homemaker,  Karen of Pint Sized Baker and Krista of Budget Gourmet Mom, just to name a few. 

After sipping on some tasty concoctions, some great music and wonderful giveaways we headed back to our rooms, changed into our pj's and got ready for the movie.  You guessed it, the midnight showing of Dirty Dancing.  We had seen the set and toured the grounds, now it was time to watch the movie in the ballroom at the place it was filmed.  How surreal!  While we were watching the movie there was no shortage of candy to munch on, thanks to Hershey's.  You have no idea how fun it was to watch this movie with so many ladies that were just as equally enthused as I was, I think we all found ourselves quoting each scene...and even cheering at times! 

Sunday morning we woke up, packed up and at one last meal with all our new friends.  Then it was time to bid farewell to Mountian Lake and our friends and head back to the real world.  At the airport I had some free time before I had to board my plane so I spent some time with some more fabulous ladies; Carrie of Bakeaholic Mama and Lauren of  Climbing Grier Mountain.  I had such a wonderful time visiting and chatting with them, my only regret is that we didn't connect earlier at the conference.  After tons of chatting it was time to board the plane and all head back home. 
It was a great weekend, that was jam packed with so much to do.  I still can't believe that I was able to go and that I was surrounded by so many talented and gifted foodies.  It's a weekend I will cherish forever.

Thanks again to our fabulous hostess' and conference organizers.  Paula, of Bell' Alimento, and Susan, of Doughmesstic, ya'll are awesome!  Thanks again for everything and providing a weekend for so many foodies to have the time of our lives!

6 comments:

Paula - bellalimento said...

We're SO glad you had a wonderful time! It was really nice meeting you! Hope to see you again this year!

Lynsey said...

It was great meeting ya'll! I hope to be able to make it to the next one!

Maeghan said...

Aww! Now I wanna go back :) I had so much fun and it was great meeting you! We definitely did a lot of chatting on that bus ride in! I hadn't seen that picture of all of us so I snagged it from here :)

Liz @ Books n' Cooks said...

I second Maeghan - I definitely want to go back! The trip was a blast!

justbakedbyme said...

Oh, Dirty Dancing is one of my all-time favorite movies. What a great location! It looks like you had an amazing time! I love Duff too. :D

Lynsey said...

@Maeghan and Liz, me too. I had a blast and it was wonderful meeting ya'll in person! Is it time for Mixed 2013 yet???

@Kim(JustBaked), it truly was an amazing experience. I had a blast. Duff, as well as all the other speakers were beyond amazing!

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