Wow, just wow! I have never been to a food blogging conference before so I had no clue what I was getting myself into. Earlier this year I went to the ISSN National Conference in Austin, Texas and had a blast, but that was for sports nutrition and supplements, we mainly noshed on protein bars and protein shakes. Nothing like what we were spoiled with at the Food and Wine Conference in Orlando, Florida.
If you’re reading this, you have probably already read Erica’s review over at The Crumby Cupcake, where she rightfully called me out for making us almost late to EVERY SINGLE EVENT. I’m not joking. I’m not sure what it is about me, but my time management skills are awful. Like I’m sitting on my couch right now writing this review at 11pm on the last day before it’s due. Yeah I’m that bad.
At the conference I really didn’t have an excuse for making us late all the time, with writing this I sort of have an excuse because I took on way too much at a time and I really under estimated how much work it was going to take to pull my e-book book together and host my 12 Weeks to Fit Challenge, which starts tomorrow might I add.
It would all me so much easier if I was a full-time food blogger…..one can dream I guess. Actually no! I will make it there some day. That’s one of the many things that I learned at the Food and Wine Conference, if I want to take my blog seriously and make it my career, I must start treating it as a part-time job and that’s what I’ve been doing.
I’ve been staying up late, past midnight every night this week and even skipping my workouts (this means I must be serious) to make sure I get everything out on time that I have scheduled for my blog and my challenge. Some of you may not think midnight is late, but I’m like a grandma. I like to go to bed early and go to the gym bright and early so I miss the gym rush in the afternoon.
Now that I went way off topic, now let me recap the Food and Wine Conference for you! I seriously think that is one of my reasons that I am always late, I get distracted wayyyyyy to easily and forget was I was originally going to talk about.
So Erica and I started our morning with 1) sleeping in, 2) rushing to get packed, 3) picking up Erica a little later and almost missing our manicure appointment (whew thankfully we didn’t because my nails were atrocious!). Then we made some yummy mimosas repping both of our brand ambassadors. Mine which was Sweet Georgia Peaches and Erica’s which was The Florida Strawberry Growers Association.
Yeah, we are over achievers! We even got our nails to match! Erica’s were more artfully done with a little cupcake and strawberry on them, and I was repping a peach and gold nail color (I didn’t think I could get away with wearing the designs at work and I was totally envious of Erica’s nails all weekend).
So after that we headed to the Florida mall where we were only supposed to make a quick pit stop to pick up a few things, but it decided to pour and I decided that I wanted to break down and actually buy some good makeup. I stepped inside the Sephora, and I was instantly in love. Yep, where has this been all of my life? 30 or so minutes later I was at the check and I knew why $$$$. Yeah it’s expensive and addicting, but totally worth it! Funny thing is, my makeup artist is actually from my hometown of NSB and is only a few years older than me.
See what I did, I’m always getting off track. So after that we made our way to the Rosen Shingle Creek Hotel. It was AMAZING. Our view below!
I dropped Erica off at the front lobby with all of our luggage and then I attempted to self park. I went totally the wrong way. I must have stopped at 10 pedestrian walk ways (they all have stop signs) on my way to the self parking. So I’m all dolled up with perfect hair and makeup and now it’s getting ruined (this may be why we were late!).
So we started the first night of the conference at the Dixie Crystal’s Sweet Retreat where we made sugar scrubs. I didn’t realize how easy they were to make! I will never buy store-bought ones again! The orange dreamsicle one smelled so good you could eat it!
After that we headed down to the Taste of The Rosen Shingle Creek, where we learned how to temper chocolate, and ate way too many chocolates!
The chocolate bacon one was my favorite! That’s the one that I’m grabbing in this action shot below.
And you can’t forget about the Strawberry Shortcake Martinis!
So after I stuffed my face with multiples of every different chocolate I could lay my hands on, we were off to dinner. Yep dinner! Like Erica said, next time I will bring an extra stomach so I can enjoy everything there and not feel so full.
At dinner we got to try a little bit of everything from each of the restaurants inside the Rosen Shingle Creek.
Sushi, steak sandwiches, homemade potato chips, cotton candy wrapped around foie gras (I wasn’t brave enough to try this–mainly because I don’t like cotton candy surprisingly), watermelon and feta salads, bloody mary oyster shooters, some kind of delicious tuna (yeah I ate it and I didn’t know what is was LOL), and yes more desserts.
Also at dinner we enjoyed some fancy cocktails provided by the Premier Beverage Group, the names to which will remain a mystery because I may have enjoyed them a little too much.
After that Erica and I met up with a bunch of bloggers (Heather, Nichole, DB, Krystal) at one of the bars where we enjoyed some fine wine and fancy sangria (they didn’t have sangria on the menu but they made it for me). Jammer joined us literally everywhere we went. Jammer didn’t fare too well when I got home, Stella loved her so much she wanted to share it all over the house!
So after a late night, you guessed it, we were running late that next morning. We still made it in time to enjoy the monstrous buffet at Cafe Osceola! Boy did it have everything on it, and like normal Lara fashion, no matter how full I am I can’t pass up the offer of trying new food!
After an awesome breakfast we headed to the Welcome and Keynote Presentation: “Everything is Subject to Change” by Monica Bhide & Andrew Wilder.
After that Liz Latham & Stephanie Parker showed us how we can Blog Our Way to Success.
Next we enjoyed a little break sponsored by Cabot Cheese and Pacari Chocolate. Pacari Chocolate is my new favorite chocolate! Some of you know that I am a little obsessed with chocolate, so much so that I wrote my graduate seminar project on the cardiovascular health benefits of dark chocolate—I’m not even kidding.
Next up on the list was The Balancing Act—something which I am struggling with currently, hosted by T.R Crumbley, Brenda Bennett, Jenny Melrose, Danielle Omar, and Brianne Izzo.
After that is was all about SEO yourself to greatness with Dan Cristo—this was greatly appreciated since I am still a little new to blogging and SEO can be confusing.
Next stop was the infamous POUTINE BAR sponsored by Idaho Potato & Wisconsin Cheese. If you haven’t had poutine before then you are really missing out! I hadn’t had poutine until earlier this year with Erica at Disney. Basically it is some kind of potato (straight fries, waffle fries, tutor tots etc), topped with some sort of liquid like gravy and then topped with cheese, meat and other yummy goodness.
And of course we couldn’t have a lunch without dessert. Fields Auto Group supplied us with decadent desserts and lots of crazy props for use to pose with in a car!
Now that I’m reaching 1500 words, I think I’m going to have to stop right here and split this up into 2 blog posts because there is so much more fun to tell. Like how we lip synced to potato inspired songs in front of a green screen all while wearing crazy hats and got them burned onto DVDs so we could re-watch them over and over again. Yeah that happen!
Stay tuned for part 2 of #FWcon recap!