Being surrounded with an intense amount of talent is overwhelming to some, for me it was completely awe-inspiring and breath-taking. I am writing this in the guest room of my Aunt’s Orlando home and it is a few days after Food Blog Forum: Orlando 2012. My head is still spinning and I am almost speechless. I am still trying to pick my jaw up off the floor. I have many new ideas, new friends and my heart and stomach are fully stuffed, bursting with love for everyone I met and everything I learned.
Gratitude is a prime emotion right now. I feel very blessed to be a part of this community and cannot wait until I have the opportunity to meet with all of you like-minded and beautiful people again. Scott asked for suggestions for Food Blog Forum venues and I wholeheartedly think that my area; New York’s Hudson River Valley, would be a perfect place for the next (after Portland, of course) forum meeting. The Hudson Valley is where all the New York City folk come to unwind and get into nature by apple picking, boating and what-have-you. It is home to the Culinary Institute of America and I think that it would be a fantastic place for all of us to visit. Big time dreaming here, who is with me?!
Some food from the welcome party reception.
Not only did I meet approximately seventeen handfuls of amazing people this past weekend; I also got to spend some much needed and long overdue, quality time with my family, who all live in Orlando. This event also fell on the weekend before spring break which was just perfect for me! Being a student makes traveling difficult. I finally got to meet my precious niece Lily who is now 1 1/2 and I got to see her older sister and brother, Helena & Steven and let me tell you, we had a blast together! I sincerely thank everyone involved with putting this event together for giving me the perfect opportunity to catch up with my family. I am constantly missing my aunt and uncle, my brother Steve and his wife, Jenn and their incredible kids who I mentioned earlier. So seriously, thank you Jaden & Scott, Diane & Todd, Julie from The Little Kitchen and all of the amazing sponsors: Oxo, Kitchen Aid and Walt Disney World for helping to bring all of the food blogging community together to learn, grow and thrive.
The IllumiNations at the Dessert Party.
Speaking of sponsors, Disney did not skimp. We were provided with 4-day park hopper passes, a two night stay in their Polynesian Hotel & Resort and of course, the amazing welcome party food, breakfast, lunch and dessert party and a prime view of the IllumiNations at Epcot. My hat is firmly tipped to the Disney chefs who are absolutely fantastic. Kudos to you all.
Desserts from the lunch Disney graciously provided.
By now, mostly everyone who attended is home, unpacked and back to their daily grind. I am still on a sugar high considering I ate all 6 desserts Disney whipped up for us, had red velvet ice cream for lunch yesterday and then a crème brulee after a thankfully light dinner. This morning I ate cookies and tonight is pizza night and my last night with the kids and the rest of my family before I fly back up north to New York. I am excited to get home and to work on getting all of my thoughts in order so I can make improvements to my photography, (yes I am going to home depot to buy those damn clamps! I cannot believe I never thought of that before. No more pretending I have eight hands!) my writing, and will continue to work on finding my voice. I’m having a hard time figuring out what I am “enough” of. Am I funny enough? I don’t really think so. Am I witty enough? not even a little. Maybe I’m self depreciating enough.
Two still life shots from the Photography & Styling Live Demonstration.
The morning presentations were fantastic. I think I typed furiously on my keyboard to get all of the information down. After the mind-blowing lunch that Walt Disney World provided we had the round tables. I went to: Basic Photo Editing and File Management, Photography & Styling Live Demonstration, Recipe Development & Writing and Writing Bigger, Better, More Badass Food Posts! I’m not ashamed to say that I am buying grammar for dummies. Hey, I learned this stuff in grade school and haven’t looked back since. I am positive I make mistakes and I want to improve. I’d like David Leite to think I am amazing but I’m sure he would cringe while reading my writing. Who else wants a critique from him?
My brother & my nephew: The Stevens, AKA S2
Our drinks at Animal Kingdom (My long awaited Margarita!)
After an amazing two days of mingling and devouring everything in sight, my big bro Steve and I took his son to Animal Kingdom. I didn’t make it to the Sunday morning brunch due to confused plans with my family. I regret not being able to say some final goodbyes to all of my new friends, but C’est la vie! My niece Helena came down with a high fever of 103 and nothing seemed to be working out as we planned. She and the smallest, (I say that word lightly because she is a chubby one!) and newest member of the family, Lilly, stayed behind while the boys (S2 ) and I rocked Animal Kingdom. We took the safari ride, slurped up some margaritas and piña coladas, (yes that raspberry piña colada was my brothers-he is such a manly man) and got soaked on the water ride. I hate to admit that we lied to Steven Jr. to get him on the rapids ride. We explained he had to take the “boats” to get to Dino land, where I ran up and down stairs and slid down slides with the, in my opinion, cutest four year old around.
Helena, Steven & Lilly spreading peace on the trampoline!
The big sister of the crew, Helena, started to feel better and we all got the chance to play together. We colored, played Mario Kart, watched the backyardigans about fifty times, drew with chalk and bounced on the trampoline.
As I was trying to pack up and get ready to leave my brothers house, the youngest, Lilly, was determined to make me stay forever due to her desire to empty my bags and give me the items they contained, one by one. Also I must mention that she is a dry pasta eater and it is probably her favorite “snack” and one of the most adorable things I have witnessed. Future food blog forum attendee!
While I missed out on a lot of things I wanted to see and do at Epcot, I had a blast. Getting the chance to be with my family again brings tears to my eyes, literally. As I am typing these thoughts I can feel my eyes welling up. It is slightly embarrassing as I am now on the airplane surrounded by strangers, with no napkin or tissue in sight. A feeling that reminds me of Diane and Todd’s presentation and videos!
A huge thank you to all involved and seriously, how good does visiting the Culinary Institute of America sound? I have no idea how to even pull that off but it would be pretty astounding.