BlogHer17

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So if you are a blogger and you do not know about the BlogHer conference I don’t know where you have been.  This year was my first time attending the annual BlogHer conference, though I have attended BlogHer Food the past two years.  While BlogHer and SheKnows Media are responsible for both conference as a first time attendee to the annual conference I was not disappointed.

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Obviously, since I attended BlogHer Food on two separate occasions, I enjoyed the conference.  While I am not a food blogger, the information shared at BlogHer Food was invaluable and it allowed me to learn a great deal more about the craft of blogging in a smaller setting than the annual conference.  As a newbie to the annual conference I was amazed that the workshops for the annual conference were at standing room capacity!  Not only were the worship sessions at capacity, there were an overwhelming number of people in attendance at the general sessions, which people often skip at some conferences.

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Maybe it was the speakers that drew people in, when you have Carla Hall, Cato Cora, Tai Beauchamp, Chelsea Clinton and the incomparable Serena Williams on stage, you are most certainly compelled to hear what they have to say.  When you have bi-partisan political discussions with Joi Reid and Ana Navarro, and humorous and engaging dialogue with Luvvie Ajayi, you most definitely want a seat in the room, or as Solange puts it “A Seat at the Table”.   And we were most certainly in the room and at the table.

There was so much information shared during this weekend it was almost mind-blowing and overwhelming.  I am an avid not taker so being prepared with paper and pen was a definite must.  Also knowing people in the other sessions who were live tweeting or taking notes was a tremendous help with being able to get all of the information that was available during the conference.  So having friends or networking is the greatest tool you can take into this weekend.  There are also tons of groups on social media where you can connect with other bloggers and within this group there was a person willing to share all of their notes and it was a God send.

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If you are looking for tips, tools or techniques to take your blog and/or business to the next level, this is definitely the conference for you.  If you did not attend the sessions and simply networked with others in attendance, the conference would be worth the investment.  The ability to attend the sponsored events that take place throughout the conference are also definitely worth the investment.  This is a great conference for those in the blogging world no matter where you find yourself along your blogging journey.

For those who have been on the fence about attending this conference, I would highly recommend it.  It is most definitely worth the investment.  For those who have been before, I hope to see you at the next one.

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Chicago Good Food Festival

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One of the best things about living in a large metropolitan city like Chicago, is that there is always something exciting going on in the city.  This is especially true when it comes to good food and great music.  Next weekend, On Saturday March 18, to be exact the excitement will continue with the Good Food Festival which will take place at the UIC Forum form.  However last night I was bale to attend a preview of what the festival will entail and I was pleasantly surprised.

A few nights ago several ambassadors of the Festival invited a few of local bloggers out to Read it and Eat to sample some of the items that will be available at the Good Food Festival.  I went to the tasting hungry and I left full and satisfied.  Not only was the food VERY good, the information shared from the chefs and other proprietors made the evening a great learning experience as well.

gff8The tasting started with the Zen of Slow Cooking, who had prepared a lentil chili in the slow cooker.  With just a drop of sour cream on top this chili was absolutely divine.  It was so flavorful and hearty that I did not miss the beans or meat that I include in my own chili.  Their prepackaged Slow Cooker blends come with recipes (including detailed shopping lists) to make cooking a dish in your slow cooker a breeze.  We were given a package of their Slow Cooker blends to take home.  Since I just purchased a slow cooker last week, this will be a great way to begin my journey in using my slow cooker.

The next tasting was vegetarian Indian food from the Chutney Devis, (you can find them on Facebook at ChutneyDevis).  They prepared a Dal stuffed with a spiced vegeratian potato which was absolutely delicious.  They also prepared lentils as a side to accompany the Dal and potato and their lentils were very good as well.  The Chutney Devis sent me home with a sample of their special blend of curry as well as recipe.  (Looks like I will be trying a lot of recipes this Spring).

Next we were treated to Pierogi’s from the Chow Brothers.  There was a barbecued beef brisket pierogi as well as on with mushrooms.  I am allergic to mushrooms, but the barbecued beef pierogi was very tasty.  It was paired with a carrot and cabbage slaw that was very good and not overly dressed as some slaws can be.  Since this was my first pierogi, I can only hope that any other pierogi I taste will be as good as this one.

The next dish was probably my favorite.  I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE dessert, and when your dessert appears to be healthy as well, in my mind that is a win/win situation.  Justice of the Pies treated my taste buds to a sweet basil and key lime pie.  Can I just stop and let my eyes roll back in my head for a minute…. Ok, so if you cannot tell already, I loved this pie.  I would buy this pie, repeatedly.  It was like enjoying key lime pie with a refreshing finish.  I cannot wait for more during the festival.

So to wash these delectable food items down there was Fruitbelt, a sparkling fruit tonic.  Fruitbelt offered samples of the apple as well as he cherry tonics.  Both were very tasty but cherry was my fav.  The drink reminded me of a milder version of Jamaican Ginger Beer.  So If you are familiar with that type of flavor and are a fan of it, you would definitely enjoy this tonic.  I could definitely see this as a mixologists secret ingredient in a craft cocktail.

Next there was this very tall gentleman in a hot pink t-shirt making crepes.  The name of his company was Gotta B Crepes.  They have several varieties of crepes and last night the rave was the cinnamon roll crepe which had  fresh bananas and strawberries as well as a crepe with goat cheese, basil and blueberries topped with honey.  I did not personally try the crepes but everyone who did loved them.  I was impressed by the fact that the chef used locally sourced items.

Finally, there was Keenwah.   Of course it was Quinoa, however it was really good quinoa, not bland or dry.  There was not much to say about quinoa, except that this brand was very good and something that I will definitely purchase.  And the $2 off coupon was an added incentive.

If you are in the Chicago area and consider yourself to be a foodie, or just a food lover who may want to experience some new and different things, then the Good Food Festival is for you.   To make it even better the Festival is, wait for it, FREE.  Yes in 2017, there is a free festival for you to attend.  You have to register for free entry so register here.  So there is no excuse for you to not come out look for the companies I have mentioned here and see all of the other great chefs and food vendors that will be on hand during the festival.  I am sure it will be a great food experience.