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This past weekend, I attended my first-ever blogging conference, Food Blog Forum in Orlando, FL. And wow, what a weekend… I’m not even sure where to begin. The amount of food, people, networking, activities and information that was squeezed into less than 72 hours is absolutely mind-boggling.

One of the biggest overriding themes of the conference was authenticity – being your true self. Initially, I was going to just post a general re-cap of the conference, but in the interest of authenticity, I’m going to delve a bit deeper and decided to split this into a three-part series, one post for each day of FBF.

Before leaving for the conference, I had a lot of anxiety… a lot. I didn’t know one person going to this conference, and I was coming by myself. I knew a few people through social media, but we’d never met in person. It was “first day of school” jitters multiplied by 100. Am I dressed nice enough? Will I fit in? Can my blog “hang” with the big blogs? And my biggest worry… I hope they like me. 

For me, this weekend was going to be a big test of getting out of my comfort zone. Don’t get me wrong, I love meeting knew people and I consider myself outgoing… but when its 1 vs 125 new faces, that’s intimidating.

FRIDAY

As a single registrant, we were assigned roommates, which brought its own set of anxiety, but immediately upon meeting my roomie Erin of Eat Bake Drink Cook, that stress subsided – she was so friendly & welcoming, whew. (This pic is from Sunday.)

Roommates

We walked over together to the first official FBF event of the weekend, a cocktail mixer. I thought the mixer would be hosted in some way… maybe a cheesy introduction game? But it was actually pretty informal… here’s some great food, talk amongst yourselves (any SNL fans?).

Entering the mixer area, everyone already seemed to be grouped up around cocktail tables *gulp* this was a bit scary. I pretended to be busy taking pictures of the food, but secretly I was trying to spot people I could recognize from their profile pictures.

Pork Tenderloin with Apple Puree

I made eye-contact with another blogger who introduced herself first – she was so nice, but unfortunately I don’t remember her name because I was still so nervous. But while I was chatting with her, I realized that this was a first-time thing for a lot of the attendees; that helped me relax a bit.

I’m not sure about you all, but one thing that makes me incredibly uncomfortable are those awkward pauses in conversations where no one is really saying anything. My defense mechanism is to start asking questions, so if any of the attendees felt I was grilling them, my sincere apologies!

Then I spotted a face I knew well – Karyn from Pint Sized Baker!!!

Pint Sized BakerCan you see the relief/excitement in my face? We’ve known each other for about 2 years through social media, email, texts & phone calls – but had never met in person.

Friends – this is the reason to be authentic. There’s nothing more awkward than meeting someone for the first time, and their online/offline personalities don’t match up. But Karyn was just as awesome as I’d known her online (except when she dragged me on Tower of Terror, more on that later).

Then I met Laura from Pink Cake Plate, an Instagram buddy for some time now. She was so, so sweet! We quickly became friends and talked a lot throughout the weekend. And she had the coolest accessories too! I need to go shopping with her sometime.

Pink Cake PlateI would up getting to meet a good number of ladies that night. In the end, the cocktail mixer was like ripping off a Band Aid… it was a frightening prospect, but after I did it, it wasn’t so bad.

ps: whoever came up with that phrase is crazy; I’ve ripped off some Band Aids that REALLY hurt… the cocktail mixer wasn’t so painful after all; it had wine ;)

Stay tuned tomorrow for my post on Day 2! I learned a LOT & I’m so excited to share with you.

Day 1 Takeaways
“Move out of your comfort zone. You can only grow if you are willing to feel awkward and uncomfortable when you try something new.” – Brian Tracy

Remember to bring the shoulder strap to your camera. Yes, I forgot mine & it was a pain in the butt.

Wear comfortable shoes at all times on Disney property. Otherwise, be prepared for a wicked charlie horse when you wake up the next day.

Day 1 Candids
If you don’t follow me on Instagram (yet), here are some pics I snapped on my phone throughout Day 1….

Before I left, I could not believe I was taking two suitcases for a weekend trip. Truth be told, I was so against paying checked bag fees, dang airlines. Little did I know that I really could’ve used a third bag to make coming home easier!

Ready to GoTwo of my dear friends from college, Jordan & Diogo; they live in Sarasota but came to Orlando to hang out with me during non-FBF time this weekend. Love them <3

Jordan and Diogo

Our hotel, the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa!

Grand Floridian

When I first tried to take a picture of the hotel, two bees flew past my phone’s camera lens! I just wish they were more in focus; what timing, right?

Bees

The view from our room’s balcony, so relaxing!

View from Room

You could see Cinderella’s Castle from our hotel (much clearer view in person).

Magic Kingdom View

Our plates at the cocktail mixer… they hold your wine glass for you! Very handy when you’re trying to juggle a camera, your phone and food.

Wine Plate

We saw Monster’s Inc. Laugh Floor show, located in Tomorrowland (Magic Kingdom) – it was actually really funny! While we were waiting to get in, I spotted Mike Wazowski’s dressing room door… I mean really, how cute.

Mike's Door

Friday night fireworks!

Magic Kingdom Fireworks

I really like this shot… it almost looks like someone cast a spell to light up the castle.

Castle Fireworks

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