Wrapping Up 2013…Part Two

Okay, okay…I wrote the first part of this wrap up over two weeks ago, swearing I would write the rest of it the VERY NEXT DAY.

I meant I would write it today.  or something like that.  You see, I got lazy, or busy, or lazy.  It happens.  But honest, I didn’t mean to let this wrap up of my incredible 2013 linger quite this long.  Because really?  September through December of last year was chock full of great things, and I was a lucky, lucky gal.

In case you missed Part One, my January through August 2013 post and want to take a peek – you can find it here.  But this post?  Well, let’s kick this post off with September and go from there.


September was primarily filled with planning, prepping, and working my butt off with Paula trying to get our November Conference, called Mixed, up and running.  We had close to 100 folks to prepare for, and we wanted success, so that involved some long, lonnnngggg days.

Seven had also started back to school, which meant – Mama had to get used to crawling out of bed early to drive him to school.  I had gotten used to those lazy mornings of sleeping in!  But, it also meant that my days were a bit freer, and therefore I could do a little more work. IMG_9266 Lucky me!


One big change for me happened in September – I started doing cooking segments on a nearly NBC talk show – Daytime Blue Ridge on WSLS.  I’ve made some great girlfriends there, and have been back a BUNCH of times now, but that first segment, whoa, was I ever nervous!  Live TV?  Eeek!

Towards the end of the month, I flew off to Chicago for a dinner with the Food Integrity group, learning more about GMOs and other food facts.  Quick trip, but fun and informative, and I got to see my gal Roxi there, so bonus!

IMG_9529At the very end of the month, though, I was in for a treat!  The Idaho Potato group flew me out to Idaho for several days of everything POTATO!  I had a great time with old friends and making new ones, learning about 453 different ways to make potatoes, and maybe even a late night dip in a hot tub full of spud lovers.  Maybe.  I can’t exactly admit any of that.

From Idaho, I flew directly to New York City, which brings me to October…


I arrived after a bunch of delays into JFK, in and of itself the worst airport I have been privy to, and that’s saying a LOT.  A confused cabbie dropped me at an airport hotel close to 2am, I slept, and then found my way into downtown, where I checked in to my NYC HomeAwayFromHome, the Waldorf Astoria.  Sorry if this sounds bratty, but Good Lord after the debacle from the night before, I was so glad to be in such a place!

That weekend it was off to the Greenwich Wine & Food Festival, where I was a “Celebrity Chef” presenter, along with my chef friend Mike Behmoiras, who I teamed up with to make some crazy s’mores for the crowd.  I was also able to see a lot of great friends there in Greenwich – like Sam, Danielle, some buddies from college, and of course, Duff Goldman.  Being a presenter there was kind of surreal, but so much fun!

IMG_9717I wrapped up October with a few things…I turned Seven into a zombie for Halloween – in fact, a Michael Jackson Thriller Video Zombie.  He’s a huge MJ fan ( I swear, I didn’t encourage this, he did it on his own, he has a style and imagination all his own.)  He came home with about 42 times more candy than any one person needs in a year, so I’m guessing 0 success?

  I also celebrated Jon’s big 4-0 with a visit from college buddies who all came in from afar to stay with us for the weekend, tailgate, play, and eat cake, of course!  And, while they were all here that weekend…I had my hair dyed.  Pink.



Oh, November.  I don’t even know if I have the energy to type it up.


November took me back to Vegas for the second time in 3 months, this time for a week.  I was there with Dole to document the World Food Championships, held in DOWNtown.  I’d never been to the Old School Vegas before, and wow, is it ever different than the Strip. Fun, yeah, but different!

Remember Ally, who I helped out at the Dole California Cook-Off?  She was a big part of the WFCs, and came in the Top 10 of her division there, so congrats, Ally!  Not only was I there to cheer on Dole and Ally, I met some great new folks, including Ray Lampe, aka Dr. BBQ, and Matt Pelton, the manliest man I ever ran across who knows what brie is and how to use it!  Matt was also in the WFCs, and his Mac & Cheese was incredible.  He’s shared the recipe with me, and honest?  I’m too intimidated to attempt it.  Yet.


IMG_9871While in town, my new friend Melanie flew in all the way from Boston to play for a few days, so every evening we would taxi off to the Strip for fine dining (beware the “Open Food charge.  Trust me.), makeovers at Sephora, shopping, more eating, and overall big fun.  It was so great to have her there!

Right after returning home, it was time for MixedPaula came in early and we spent a few days getting everything organized on site.  What an adventure!  That Thursday, our speakers and a few sponsors rolled into town, we had some great food, and then EVERYONE descended on site!  We worked and ate and laughed all weekend, catching up with old friends and making new ones…what an awesome time!


IMG_0240A few days later, I celebrated my very first Hanukkah.  Chef Mike and his mother, Linda, are both Jewish, and they invited us to first night, where Mike made doughnuts and latkes – we had a wonderful time, and Seven learned to play dreidel – he loved it!

Thanksgiving was the next day, so we celebrated at my parents and my huge extended family.  It’s a tradition, and over 40 cousins, aunt, uncles an the like were there.  it’s one of the best days of the year!

As a last minute splurge, I bought tickets to a concert for Jon and I two days later…in Las Vegas.  I know!  Crazy!  We jumped on a flight to Sin City and arrived in time for to see Panic at the Disco and Thirty Second to Mars perform in a smaller venue – so amazing!  Just like with Melanie, Jon and I ate very well, visiting Scarpetta, Fix, and others.  Indulgence was the name of the game!  We also saw an amazing show – Absinthe – at Caesars Palace.  I’d do that again in a heartbeat.



Other than work, which I did a lot of, I can’t even remember December.  Yes, I know it was just a few weeks ago, but good gravy, the time flew by.

Christmas with the family happened, of course…so we did that.  Always so much fun – and this year, they didn’t make me make ANYTHING! (Lol, last year they surprised me by having me make a cheesecake, from scratch, no warning.  So I wrote a post about it.  Must’ve worked, haha!)


I wrapped up the month by jetting off to Los Angeles on the 30th – for real! – and finally, incredibly, making Gold Medallion on Delta.  Yay!  I flew out to help with the decorating of the Dole Rose Parade Float – and gosh, I can’t even tell you how incredible that experience was.  You’ll just have to stay tuned, as I have a post all about it coming up shortly.  Fantastic time!

So whew…that was my year.

It was a whirlwind, it was unexpected, and it was one of the best 12 months any one person can ever hope for.  I feel like 2014 will have to be a let down after a year like that, but who knows?

You never know what could be lurking just around the corner.

Happy 2014 to you!!

Wrapping Up 2013…Part One

This post is mostly for me.  To remember.  To reflect.  To remind myself I have it good…and I do.  I really do.  It’s just hard to remember the good when you are so caught up in the day to day of work and life.

I know I wrote a post at the beginning of the year, scared to death of what 2013 would hold for me.  I was freaked out, to say the least, because I just KNEW this year couldn’t measure up to 2012.

So I worked.  I worked like a madman.  Too much?  Perhaps.  But I sunk everything I had into making my blog and my work WORK.  I wanted to provide for my family. I wanted to make some kind of difference.  I wanted to see and do things – experience new things – I wanted to make friends and laugh.  I wanted to treat my son to things that so many kids do not get to do.

I think I succeeded.  So much in fact, that the I’m Scared of 2014 Blog Post is bound to happen…because again, I am nervous.  Until that happens, I’m going to write about the highlights of my 2013.  Read them if you like, click away if you like.  As I said, this post is for me, but if you enjoy it – and I hope you do, as it is because of SO MANY of YOU that I had this banner year – I hope you’ll let me know.  I appreciate each and every one of you.


IMG_5708Bree came here to visit for a few days to photograph my S’mores cookbook, which was due in a few short weeks.  It was great having her here, and we knocked it out like we knew what we were doing!

Immediately after Bree left, my husband Jon and I packed Seven up and we headed to The Greenbrier for a few days of R&R…it was much needed!  If you’ve not been – go.  The Greenbrier is amazing.  The Casino, the food, the Spa, the indoor pool, the bowling – we had such a fun time, as did Seven!

The following week, Jon surprised me with a Royal Caribbean cruise, which was relaxing and a great way to kick off the year and celebrate the end of my book work.  We travel so well together, and it was nice to get away, just the two of us.  We ended our cruise with a weekend at the Four Seasons Miami – oh my!  Gorgeous.


Later that month I was in Birmingham to speak at Food Blog South, my first conference speaking gig.  Even though both Paula and I got a touch of food poisoning while there, we managed to get through it!


Being a food blogger has it’s perks – The Hotel Hershey invited us up for Chocolate Covered February, for a weekend stay, chocolate and wine tastings, treatments at the Hershey Spa, and meals like no other.  So much fun!



The first weekend of March, we packed up and headed to The Homestead Resort with Seven.  The Jefferson Pools (oh so famous) are so relaxing at a balmy 99 degrees – and it was bitter cold outside!  Great food, a fantastic resort, and lots of quality family time…can’t say enough good things here!


One sunny weekend my little family and I spent the weekend in Washington, DC, doing a bit of sightseeing.  We also met up with Miss Bree again, and our kiddos played together after a great dinner – so much fun!


Dallas!  I attended Blissdom in Dallas, Texas, at the Gaylord.  I was so thrilled to have my Blogging Besties with me – Paula, Brandi and Meredith – we must have watched Pitch Perfect a million times!  We also made plenty of time for umm, choosing Zombie Apolycypse partners in the Sports Bar, seeing Reckless Kelly in concert, and ordering room service!  Oh, the stories we just can’t tell…



April was a bit slower for me, but Jon and I did sneak away for a weekend in Baltimore and Annapolis, where we visited our friends Jeff & Ann.  Great meals at the Four Seasons in Baltimore, a lot of boating, and quaint shopping in Annapolis made for a really great weekend.



I kicked off May with a trip to southern California, where I threw an event for a sponsor.  Before heading to my event locale, I had lunch at The BLVD at the Four Seasons..and guess who I saw?  Harry Connick, Jr.!  He even tweeted me ! Woooot!

But onto the event!  I got to stay in the most incredible villa – complete with theater room, pool, hot tub, and so much more…sweet!  We had a very successful evening, full of great bloggers and food – good times with good people!  From there I flew home and May really swung into full gear.


Another cruise!!  While I was at Blissdom, I met a lovely lady who worked for Carnival Cruise lines, and she invited my family on a weeklong cruise to the Western Caribbean!  So, for a week we sailed and ate, played and shopped, and had an incredibly good time.  It was Seven’s first cruise, and to say he enjoyed it is an understatement!



IMG_7195June began with BlogHer Food in Austin.  Again I reunited with my girlfriends for 5 days of parties! (And, yeah, there was a conference, too.)  We started with a Spa day courtesy of Dixie Crystals, then another spa day for Paula and I, lots of other parties, then a huge Dole Luncheon at our gorgeous mansion.  After 14 events we were partied out but was it ever a great time.  I love hosting events for my sponsors, and Dixie Crystals and Dole are just two of the very best brands you could ever ask to work for.



Later that month I judged a cake competition with my new-to-me friend Chef Mike Behmoiras…it’s always an honor to be considered worthy to judge anything at all, and this was my third year judging, so I hope that means I am doing something right!

Finally, I spent the end of June in Santa Monica with the Dole California Cookoff, where I was the sous chef for my new friend Ally – her amazing recipe WON her $25,000!  I was thrilled to be a part of it!



Good Lord, July.

We spent the 4th at Mountain Lake Lodge.  In fact, we spent several days there, and had an absolute ball.  Paula and her family joined us as well, and we ate and played like there was no tomorrow.  We went and did the Treetop Adventure with our families – dig the hats?


IMG_7648On July 11, I had my Cookbook launch party at The Bank Food & Drink – where I gave a little presentation, we had lots of s’mores, and all of my dear friends and family joined me for a wonderful dinner to celebrate.  What a relief to see the book in print, and what a great way to relax and smile knowing I had achieved something I set out to do!

Not long after that, Jon and I packed up and headed back for more boating with friends in Baltimore – this time we played non-stop.  Swimming holes each day, great food each night – we took in all there was to see and do!


Soon after I flew off to the Windy City for BlogHer, and another weekend of parties…including one of my own!  Courtesy of Hershey’s, I kicked off a S’mores Cookbook tour at the Hard Rock Café Chicago, and you can’t even imagine how unreal that was!  I got to meet up with one of my favorite bloggers – Jamie of StickyFeet Part Deux – who I had only been friends with online until then.  So surreal to sit and eat, chatting as if we’d always known each other – but SO GREAT.



I was home very little in August…the S’mores Cookbook Tour was in full swing.  First stop – Boston – which was made amazing thanks to my now dear friend Melanie of A Beautiful Bite.  She joined me for a delicious dinner at my host hotel – The Four Seasons Boston – and then arranged a blogger brunch for us in Cambridge so that I could share my cookbook with even MORE friends.  How great is that!?


From there I took the train to New York City for another stop of the book tour, and another brunch that was out of this world.  My hotel, The Waldorf Astoria, was a gracious host and hooked us up with the most wonderful meal, including s’mores desserts so decadent it’s impossible to describe them.


While in NYC, I had plenty of time on my own to wander the city…and wander I did. Turns out I managed to wander right into Times Square on Underwear Day- where I stripped to my skivvies and joined the masses in hopes of setting the new World Record for people in their underwear!

After New York,  I went on to Las Vegas, where I played with my friend Jill, and also promoted the book with even more blogger friends.  I finally met Kari from Retro Bakery (yay!!), I went to a couple of shows, I shopped…and I got tattoos!


From Vegas I went on to Los Angeles, and spent a few days touring and playing.  I hooked up with my friend Jessica who works PR for Dole – she even picked me up from the airport and took me to lunch, so sweet!  An afternoon walk around Beverly Hills landed me back at The Four IMG_8474Seasons Beverly Wilshire (my stomping grounds when I am in LA) where I met up with my friend Jeremy, the GM of The BLVD restaurant at the Four Seasons.  He treats me way too good, and it was fun to catch up over Pimm’s Cups and Cronuts!

I also met up with the owner of Grub LA – the one and only Chef Betty Fraser.  Betty and I met in LA at the event I hosted in May, and let me tell you, her restaurant is TOP NOTCH. (Top Chef Top Notch, lol!)  Betty even joined in for my Cookbook Party in LA, which was hosted at my friends place…you may have heard of him.  Duff Goldman?


Yep!  Duff’s Cakemix is where I had my party, and we had a great time decorating cakes, talking and laughing…such fun!  Duff actually wrote the foreword for my S’mores cookbook, so it was fun to have the party there and kind of bring it all full circle.  Thanks, Duff!

I left LA one morning and took the train – yes, the train – north, all the way to Seattle.  36 hours, a private room, lots of meals in the dining car, and one hell of a great experience.  I can NOT tell you how wonderful that was, and I would do it again in a heartbeat.  The peace and scenery, the meals, the nostalgia of a different time and place…it was just incredible.  I intend to write a full post about it, and I’m sad to say I just haven’t yet…but it will happen!


IMG_9047Once I arrived in Seattle, I had my final stop on the West Coast book tour – again – The Four Seasons!  ART in The Four Seasons hosted our luncheon, and it was great to hook up with some great bloggers there.  I love having friends all across the country, and these were ones I really can’t get enough of!

Finally I came home, just a few days before Seven started First Grade, and the following weekend we had his 6th Birthday Party….whew!!  August was a whirlwind!

Wow! This post is LONG.  I’m going to stop here and do a Part Two tomorrow…so much more good stuff happened in 2013 – I want to make sure I get it all on paper!

The S’mores Cookbook Tour…Las Vegas

I can’t believe it has been three months since the S’mores Tour hit Vegas.  Three months.  The strangest part is, I remember wanting to write to you about it FROM Las Vegas, but knew I couldn’t since I had other stops to tell you about first.

And now here I am, three months later.  Wow does time ever fly.

So let’s see…Sin City.


Lucky for me, instead of having to be on my own in such a wicked town, my girlfriend Jill from middle school was going to be in town the same week I was.  Now, despite not having really spoken much in years, we decided to stay together for the week at The Paris (yes, really, we hooked up at our 20 year Class reunion this summer after a good 22 year hiatus and have been thick ever since) – and I can’t even tell you what a fun time we had!


Jill and I got into so many things – gambling, shopping, The Thunder from Down Under (stage side, baby!), Rock of Ages – and so much more.  It was a blast and I am so happy I had someone to spend that time with.  I was also thrilled to have her join my “S’mores Blogger Luncheon” at the Sugar Factory inside the Paris.

Oh, the luncheon.


Such a rowdy group of ladies, and ever so talented!  We had a great lunch, courtesy of Hershey’s, and then followed that up with an overwhelming amount of cupcakes brought in by none other than the one and only Kari from Retro Bakery!  I had always wanted to meet Kari, as I’ve followed along with her and the bakery for years now.  So spunky, so incredibly vicious with her cupcakes!  I don’t know how many flavors I tried, but it wasn’t enough.  It just wasn’t!  If you are ever in Vegas, I HIGHLY recommend you look up Retro.


I hope all the bloggers had a good time, getting to meet up and look at each other in person versus via Twitter…I know I did! It’s always nice to meet people you’ve only seen online. It’s surreal, but also very natural, like you’ve always known each other.  Hard to explain, but that’s the way I feel.


Stay tuned for a post on a little special something I did in Vegas…and for the next stop on the S’mores Tour – LA and a party at Duff Goldman’s CakeMix!

Mixed 2013…Want a ticket?

In just under three weeks, the second Mixed is taking place in the mountains of Virginia.

Last year, Mixed was AMAZING.  Close to one hundred bloggers and sponsors gathered together to learn, chat, make partnerships with brands, and make friends they never knew they needed.  On top of a mountain, where Dirty Dancing was filmed, we partied and played, ate and decorated.  We had a ball.

Seriously, a BALL.  Check out last year here…it was incredible.

This year looks to be just as amazing.  More sessions, more sponsors.  More opportunities to learn more about our blogging and food professions than ever.

Anna  Lingeris, the PR guru from Hershey’s will be there to speak on Working With Brands.

Lenny & Denise of Chez Us are back with tips and tools for Videography.

Andy Marzka is going to teach us about ads, layering them, and how to make MORE MONEY.

Tami and Helene (yeah, THEM) are partnering up for Photography & Food Styling. Awesome.

Taylor Mathis (and his Tailgate Cookbook!) are going to teach us about writing a cookbook.

Questions about food?  Food Integrity will be there to answer the tough questions.

Bree is back for more photography tips and hello? She’s taking Headshots! We all need those.

For fun?  McCormick is treating us to Holiday Projects we get to make ourselves.

Dixie Crystals is having a Sugar Suite – we’re making scrubs you’ll likely want to eat.


Speaking of eating!  The multi-million dollar renovation this year at Mountain Lake Lodge didn’t stop at room makeovers, they’ve been busy in the kitchen, too!  We’ll eat a LOT.

There is even going to be a fun Tailgate Party with Dreamfields winning Mac & Cheese, chicken wings, and of course – S’mores!  I did write the book on that, you know!

Oh…did I mention movies?  We’ll have movies each night.  We’ll also have a closing party with booze courtesy of Captain Morgan, The Band Concord (so fantastic!) and over 40 giveaways. 

And SWAG worth the price of admission!

If you’ve not bought your ticket…why not?  You can grab one here.

Or, you can win one, RIGHT NOW.  In fact, I am giving TWO away.  I’ll happily buy these two tickets…you just need to get yourself on property and book your room.  I’m happy to help you arrange it.

Just let me know you’d like to win!

Winners will be announced THIS FRIDAY, November 8.  Good luck!

Chocolate Mousse Day

A Day, devoted to Chocolate Mousse.

That’s got to be a good day, right?  Well, that day is TOMORROW, April 3rd.

Whippy, light, chocolate.  Rich, decadent, hitcha-where-you-need-it.  Chocolate Mousse.

Now, I would love to be eating something right now, made of chocolate mousse.  But you know what?  I’ve been busy.  Busy with S’mores book edits, busy with Easter, with Sponsored Party Planning, with travel, with Blissdom, and with my new found love of vodka and Pitch Perfect.

Judge not, lest ye be judged, dear reader.

But you are in luck – I have composed a round up of all things Chocolate Mousse.

See? I care.  I CARE.

Let’s start with the Best of the Best.  Julia Child’s Chocolate Mousse.  Bliss….

Then we have a couple of cheesecakes I made once upon a time…

Chocolate Mousse Cheesecake with Chocolate Strawberries

Chocolate Mousse Topped Cheesecake

Followed up with Frozen Chocolate Raspberry Mousse

And finally, one of the only trifles on my blog…The Chocolate Charlotte Russe Trifle.  Yum.

And from my friends…such awesome nerds…

Happy Chocolate Mousse Day…Make good choices!!

Canon EOS Rebel T3i Camera GIVEAWAY!

I know…I’ve been MIA.

It’s the cookbook, y’all.  Tightest deadline I’ve ever faced, and SO much work.  Of course, adding in 4 additional trips in January wasn’t a big help on the time management system…but no one ever accused me of being a genius.

However, the book has been turned in – ON TIME, as of Monday – and you all are still here reading, despite my lackadaisical posting as of late.

I’m going to make it up to you RIGHT NOW.

How about a shiny new CANON DSLR? 

Yes, really!

I’ve teamed up with Bellalimento and Eclectic Recipes to GIVE AWAY a Canon EOS Rebel T3i Camera (worth $599) !  Check it out!

A few features:

Style: Body + 18-55mm lens

  • 18.0 MP CMOS sensor and DIGIC 4 Image Processor for high image quality and speed
  • ISO 100 – 6400 for shooting from bright to dim light
  • Vari-angle 3.0-inch Clear View LCD monitor (3:2) for shooting at high or low angles and 1,040,000-dot VGA with reflection reduction
  • Video Snapshot features for enhanced video shooting options
  • Comes with camera body, EF-S 18-55mm f/3.5-5.6 IS Type II lens, eyecup, wide strap, USB cable, AV cable, battery, and charger

You must use the Rafflecopter widget to enter. The more you enter the better your chances are! See widget for terms and conditions.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Disclaimer: This post is sponsored by bell’alimento. doughmesstic & Eclectic Recipes and is NOT affiliated with Canon. Terms & Conditions are posted within the Rafflecopter Entry Widget. Opinions are our own..  There is also an affiliate link in this post.

No Nonsense (Lots of Nonsense!) Girls Getaway Weekend

This post brought to you by No nonsense. All opinions are 100% mine.

I make no secrets about who my friends are.  There are a few, though, that I just can not seem to function without.

Paula. Brandi. Bree.

What they see in me, I’ll never know, but together the four of us (as different as we are) seem to complete each other.  Do you have friends like that?

I hope so.

After a stint in Los Angeles in October, and a wonderful few days hanging out all together (and eating some incredible goodies) at Mixed, we decided we HAD to make sure we got together again, and soon.  But where do four food blogging, crazy headed, world wanderers go?

New York City.

Yep, in April the four of us are packing our bags, ditching our husbands, and taking the train from DC to Penn Station for a weekend of eating, shopping, eating, Instagramming, and eating like nobody’s business.

Scarpetta?  Close up early.  We intend to devour every bite of pasta you’ve got.

Nine West?  I’m coming for shoes.

Cartier?  Yeah, umm, you’re likely safe.

But what to pack for a weekend of giddiness in April? 

I have a reputation for being a very savvy packer.  I’ve even been known to shame my fellow bloggers into packing lighter, for fear of what I may say about the size of their luggage.  I do not ever ever ever CHECK a BAG.  Ever.  Heck, I was in Beverly Hills for nearly a week with four pair of shoes, two of them tall boots, and still only had a carry-on.

I can pack.

But April may be a little chilly.  You never know.  I still plan on packing one small bag, though, as schlepping a suitcase through NYC is not fun.  Trust me on this. Not. Fun.

So, I did a little Polyvore montage of what I think is a fun start.  A simple black skirt with brown belt (to match the brown boots), a dressed up plaid top, a dressed down denim top, a fun necklace, and a big leather bag.  Oh yeah – and leggings.  Windy? Chilly?  No problem with the leggings.  The ones I chose were No nonsense.  Great color, and easy to find…most chain stores have them, and they are easy on the wallet.  It’s a quick addition to the wardrobe that takes up very little luggage room as well, so that’s great news for me.  Heck, I may have to add a black pair as well.Girls Weekend Getaway

Why not?

I’ve got a bit to learn in the style department – maybe I am a little funky?  But, Jill Martin seems to have her finger on the pulse of everything fashion.  Not just a fashion expert, Jill is also an Emmy Award-winning TV personality and co-author of the New York Times bestselling style guide “I Have Nothing to Wear!” She is also the New York Correspondent for Access Hollywood.  And now, she’s the spokesperson for No nonsense.

As the new brand ambassador, Jill will be featured in a series of online vignettes that show women how to wear the latest trends that include No nonsense tights and leggings. She will also be active on social media, providing fashion tips via Twitter and will be featured in a Facebook contest where a winner and her friend will meet Jill in NYC for a shopping spree and lots of great style advice.

Follow along with all the fashion updates here:

No nonsense on Facebook

On Twitter:  @benononsense


And look out NYC, am I right?


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I cannot fathom that Mixed has come and gone.


It’s gone.

I blinked, and it passed me right by.  I didn’t remember to sleep, nor did I remember to eat.  For three solid days.

What I DO remember?

Wonderful things.  Amazing people.  Laughter and hugging and learning.  Smiles.  Friends.


Cardboard boxes.

Did I say cakes?

You may have heard this already, but cakes just about did me in.

Let me fill you in on a little background info here, just in case you haven’t been following along.

Mixed is the conference I co-hosted with my best friend and fellow blogger, Paula of Bellalimento.  We’ve been planning and scheming for oh, 6 months.  Our exceptional line up of speakers (Marian Poirier, Bree Hester, Tami Hardeman, Lenny Ferreira & Denise Woodward, and Heidi Larsen) came together beautifully, our phenomenal (and I do mean that) sponsors were perfect for us.  The location, the attendees, the travel plans?  All fell into line.  And the cakes?

Well…cakes were nearly the death blow.  I guess every event has that one thing to go wrong, but, I guess I was hoping it wouldn’t happen to US.

Because we were fortunate enough to have Duff Goldman, THE Ace of Cakes hosting a cake decorating class for all attendees, we needed a BUNCH of cakes.  Baked, Iced, and Covered In Fondant.

The bakery we ordered from?  Cancelled.  2 weeks prior to our event.  Just – we don’t think we want to do it.


So, after calling and begging and offering everything but our bodies to every bakery in the tri-state area, Paula and I buckled down and used the kitchen at Mountain Lake to bake and ice every. single. cake.

I think there were close to 90.  I’d like to jump in here and say THANK GOD for KitchenAid, as those mixers got the workout of their lives.

The plan was to cover all of them in fondant there, too, but after realizing that the humidity and altitude were NOT going to play nice, we ended up schlepping all those cakes OFF the mountain, covered them at my house, then schlepped them BACK up the mountain.  In a rented Dodge Charger.

Did I say 90?

I literally cried as I covered them.  My forearms were bruised; Paula’s hands were numb.  It was a feat I hope never to repeat.  But if I had to?  For Mixed attendees?

I’d do it.

Sure, other little things popped up here and there throughout the weekend – but hopefully it didn’t spoil anyone’s fun.  A few flights were delayed.  Some starting and end times changed, based on the overall mood of the group as a whole.  Some people got more Hershey Bars than Reese’s Cups.

It all worked out.

One thing jumps out at me a lot…and to be honest, though I heard only a bit of negativity about it – I kind of liked it.

The phone/internet service.

Mountain Lake is located in a very remote location, high in the mountains.  Cell service?  Limited, but available.  Luckily, they did offer wifi, but a hundred bloggers all itching to get on it at once, well, not always perfect.  Despite that, over 350 instagrams went out in under 2 days, all tagged #MixedCon.  That doesn’t include the tweets. That’s JUST Instagram.  (I’ve stolen a few of them here for this post.  Please take it as a compliment if one of them belongs to you.  It’s for the greater good, right?)

But let me tell you what REALLY happened thanks to the phone service…and I noticed it most at the closing party. (an amazing event, if I do say so myself.)

I looked around the Barn, listening to the band, and for the first time in my blogging life, I saw bloggers with phones put away, TALKING and LAUGHING with each other.  Like, actually talking.  Every other blogger event I’ve been to has been (me included) an iPhone fest.  We converse via Twitter, and manage to miss everything going on around us.

Not here.  We looked each other in the eye, and talked.  The phones came out, but only for taking pictures.

It was incredible.

Let me talk a minute about the sessions.  I wish I could have gone to every session, but sadly, there was just too much for me to be doing.  I would have loved learning tips on photography from Bree.  I would kill to hear what Lenny and Denise had to say about Videography.  Tami’s session on Food Styling would have been right up my alley.  And Heidi? I heard her talk on eBooks was fantastic.

So sad I missed it.  All of it.

I also missed the cookie decorating session hosted by REAL Butter, and led by the uber talented Marian of Sweetopia.  She’s cookie royalty, folks…and an amazing human in general.

Yup, I missed that, too.

I also did not manage to decorate a cake in Duff’s session.  Not in any of his FIVE sessions. Yes, I was there, flitting in and around those cake sessions, but sitting down to decorate?

I did not.

Quite honestly, I was afraid he’d see the state of the blank cakes and walk off the property…so I hung close by to make sure that didn’t happen.

He said nothing negative.  I’m sure his tongue was likely swollen from biting it, though.  Mine would have been.

Since that weekend, I’ve seen my face in 3 different newspaper articles.

It’s weird.

No one around here knows me, and yet all this publicity.  Yes, I helped bring in a lot of money to our region, by hosting the conference here.  Yes, we raised a good amount of money for charity.  Yes, we did a good deed or two by donating those fanciful cakes to needy families in the area.

But it seems strange to me – because we had so much fun.  Just LOOK at these pictures.


And that’s what it was about.  Getting together, learning from each other in this world we’ve managed to carve out for ourselves.  You know the world I am talking about – the online world.  The world where we admit to each other that we are bloggers, but that no one else we know seems to get.

We came together and had a ball.  We watched Dirty Dancing together.  We gave away thousands and thousands of dollars in loot from everyone from KitchenAid to Le Creuset. We had swag bags filled with books and tools and coupons and goodies like none other.  We ate a ton of cookies, thanks to Dixie Crystals and OXO.  We had enough Mac & Cheese to fill up the lake again, thanks to Dreamfields.  We had S’mores Brownies to die for, courtesy of Attune and Hershey.  We had some of the best chips I have ever eaten, thanks to Way Better Snacks.  We had plenty of wine and rum punch, courtesy of Cameron Hughes and Diageo.  We had a band on Saturday that we all fell in love with.  We had a location – Mountain Lake Hotel – that we completely overtook for ourselves.

We had FUN, courtesy of everyone involved.

I’m so glad to have met so many of you.  And next year – let’s actually chat, okay?  I promise, I won’t be so busy.

I also promise there won’t be cake.

As I mentioned, we couldn’t have done this without our wonderful speakers and sponsors…so I’s like to thank them all now.  You were the life of this party…and we can’t thank you enough.


OXO, KitchenAid, Dixie Crystals, Real Butter, Wisconsin Cheese, Dreamfields, Attune Foods, Hershey’s, Way Better Snacks, Lucky Leaf, Creminelli, Roland, Stonyfield, Cameron Hughes Wines, Harvard Common Press, Le Creuset, Gartner Studios, Edgeware, John Boos, Dreamfarm, California Raisins, Anderson Seafoods, and Diageo Brand Liquors and Wines. And of course, a big thanks to the staff of Mountain Lake.  We traipsed in and out of your kitchens, the Front Desk, and the offices like we owned the place.  We couldn’t have done it without you… All of you.   THANK YOU ALL.


Here’s to Mixed 2012…and looking forward to Mixed 2013!!  Who’s coming??

In Honor and Remembrance of Sandy Hook

National Blogging Day of Remembrance

By: ifood.tv