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BlogHer 2011 | My Experience

I had the best time at BlogHer and I keep wishing I could go back to California to see everyone. It was so nice to meet all my bloggy friends in real life. I think for me that was the best part of the trip. I know a few people have asked me how the trip was so instead of having to type the same thing over and over I decided to just write a post and share my experience with everyone!

I live in Nova Scotia which is a part of the Maritime provinces and if you look on a map you will see just how far it is from California! I knew I didn’t want to go there alone so I brought John with me. I’m a big chicken when it comes to flying and I need someone’s hand to squeeze when there’s turbulence. John had never been to California either and we were both excited to visit.

We left home at 2 am August 4 and drove 2 hours to the Halifax airport. John likes to be early for everything he does so we spent a few hours waiting in the airport. We had one stop in Toronto and then changed planes and went through Customs and then we were off to San Diego!

When we landed in San Diego and got our luggage, I had to try to find a payphone to call Cindi from Little Yaya’s and tell her that we had arrived. I’m probably the only person who doesn’t own a cell phone. I just didn’t want another monthly bill. However, after going to BlogHer I am planning on getting a cell phone before the next conference in 2012!

It was so nice to finally meet Cindi IRL (in real life). We had talk on the computer and the phone all the time and she has become one of my closest friends. She was just what I expected- bubbly personality and she was even more beautiful in person. Seriously this girl could be a model!

After dropping our stuff off at the hotel, we walked over to the Convention centre to get my badge for BlogHer. They don’t mail out badges to Canadians so I had to wait in a long line to pick mine up (and I got a bag of swag!).

Cindi had our itinerary planned out with all the parties, timings, etc. She had this folder that was all organized, labelled and colour coded. At 6 pm, Cindi and I headed over to the Expo Hall where all the businesses were set up with their booths. Both of us really had no clue what to expect. We were blown away just how amazing the set up was. It was HUGE! Rows upon rows of companies each with information about their products, samples, swag and fun activities. We walked around in circles because we didn’t know where to start. Our stomachs decided that we should get some food so we went to Hillshire Farm and Jimmy Dean and ate some delicious sandwichs.

We grabbed John at the hotel and headed out to the Clever Girls Collective I’m With the Brand party. My feet were killing me and I was so tired at this point that I didn’t want to walk anywhere. We decided to hop in a pedi-cab – bad idea because it was CRAZY EXPENSIVE! It was still pretty fun though 🙂

At the Clever Girls party, we walked around for a bit and checked out all the sponsors. Everything was Smurfs! John and Cindi tried the Smurfs cocktails and we got some Smurf swag including stuffed Papa Smurf and Smurfette. I would have liked to stay longer but I just wanted to sleep. Remember I’m 4 hours ahead of PST so it was really 2 am for me!

The next day, Cindi and I went to the Newbie Breakfast at the conference and finally got to meet some blogger friends- Jennifer at Makobi Scribe, Anna at Moana Saves, Yolanda at Sassy Mama in LA and Jamie at Jamie’s Precious Peas. We got lost trying to find the room for the newbie breakfast so our food was cold. Still tasted pretty good though!

After breakfast, we went to one the sessions- Minding Your Business: Bad Blogger Pitches (The Other Side of the PR-Blogger Relationship). Thankfully we got there early and got a table because it filled up quick. There was standing room only by the time it began. Some of the information presented I knew but I found it interesting to learn that there IS a Blogger Black List that PR companies have. They also mentioned that when you write a pitch letter to say WHY you want to work with the sponsor.

We spent the rest of the afternoon at the Expo Hall checking out all the booths. It was so much fun!! I already wrote a post about all my favourite booths.

Friday evening, Cindi, John and I met up with Jennifer (Makobi Scribe) and Jamie (Jamie’s Precious Peas) at the Mom Central & Johnson’s Have a Drink on Us at the Edgewater Grill. This time we decided to take a cab instead of a pedi-cab. However, we didn’t realize that the restaurant was actually right behind our hotel. We could have walked easily!! Our cabbie ended up getting lost trying to find the place, but luckily only charged us half price since he had no clue where he was going.

We chatted there for awhile and then Jennifer had us on the road again going to the Cheap Sally’s party. That girl has a ton of energy! We hung out on the rooftop at the bar of the Cheap Sally’s party and I got a really cool pair of sandals from ViX. I also ran into Colleen from Shibley Smiles there!

 

We hopped on a pedi-cab (this one was free thanks to TravelZoo) and headed to the One2One Network You-Phoria party. Cindi had gotten us all buttons that day so that we could hop to the front of the line and be one of the first to enter. We started going around to the various booths. I made my own perfume thanks to Future:Standard. I mixed Tangerine and Vanilla and it smelled like a creamsicle! We also had pictures taken in the photo booths from San Diego Photo Booth Rentals and I had the BEST MASSAGE EVER from Evan of Chiropractique. I meet Dr. Beau of Chiropractique who is so friendly and nice. I chatted with him for a bit and discovered that he is from Canada! He’s a dual citizen- American/Canadian. He’s based in San Diego and if I were there I would totally want him to be my chiropractor.

The next day, Cindi and I headed down to the fourth floor of the Hyatt (my hotel) to the De Wafelbakker’s Pancake Breakfast. Then a bunch of us made the LONG trek to the Hilton to the Mom Select Swag Suite.  My poor feet were killing me at this point 🙁 The Mom Select Swag Suite felt like Christmas morning. They had rows of tables full of products and bowls where you could drop your business card. You just grabbed the swag and put it in your bag as you walked around the room! We got SO MUCH great stuff! Some of the businesses included Paper Coterie and Fashion Playtes.

Cindi and I spent the next few hours going around the Expo Hall. The sad part is that we didn’t even get to visit all the booths. There was just so much to see that there was not enough time to fit it all in. We did our best though. I also ran into a few bloggers that I knew online and was really excited to meet IRL (in real life) including Jen at Eighty MPH Mom, Emily at Family and Life in Las Vegas, Tammi at My Organized Chaos (meet her at Blissdom Canada last year), Natalie at Great Contradictions, Myrah at Coupon Mamacita and Lolo at Crazy About My Baybah.

One highlight of the trip for me was The Help screening and reception party. I was beyond excited to see the movie after hearing about it for months from Jennifer on my review team. It definitely lived up to my expectations and was wonderful! I’m buying this one on DVD as soon as it comes out. The book is also on my TBR list.

John and I hung out with Yolanda (Sassy Mama in LA) at The Help reception party. She is great and so easy to talk to. It really felt like I was talking to an old friend. John loved Yolanda and even mentioned that he thought she was cool to hang out with. We met up with her later that evening at the BlogHer Social Fiesta party and got there just in time to eat some yummy Mexican food.  No salsa dancing for me though. They had some dance instructors there teaching everyone how to do the Congo by Gloria Estefan. I sat that one out too! My feet were soooooo sore.

The next day most of our bloggy friends were checking out and heading back home, but we were booked in for one more. John and I took the Coaster to Carlsbad to see Cindi. We went shopping to buy a bag to bring home all the swag and then went to the beach! I had never been to the Pacific Ocean nor a beach in California and John was adamant that we not leave without going there! We walked along the beach in the water and my poor blisters were stinging from the salt water. My ankles were very swollen by that time. In fact, they pretty much disappeared under all the swelling.

We hit up Toes on Melrose in San Marcos and all three of us (John, Cindi and I) had manicures and pedicures. It was heaven!! I probably could have fallen asleep in my massaging chair.

Cindi took us to her house where we got to meet her hubby and her oldest daughter. I had met her little guy already because he was with us on our shopping and beach trip. We rested there for a bit and then headed out again to Benihana for dinner. Now I can see why this is Cindi’s favourite restaurant. They cook the food right in front of you at your table and turn it a little show. The guy was making volcanoes out of sliced onions and flipping shrimp and catching them in his pocket. It was all very entertaining. Plus the food was delicious! I was so full when we left there I thought I was going to burst.

I was sad when Cindi drove us back to our hotel because I knew I would have to say good-bye. She helped me pack up my stuff in my new bag and we got just about everything to fit. I gave her the food that we didn’t eat and a wine glass but most of it was able to fit fine. Poor Cindi cried when she had to leave and made me start to cry too. I’m such a sap sometimes and hate goodbyes. I felt sad having to leave her and San Diego because I had such a good experience there. I told her to make sure she goes to New York City for the next BlogHer conference. Actually we both bought our tickets a few days later!

I’m sad that the conference is over, but grateful for the experience and the connections I made there. The best part for me was the friendship. I’m counting down till I can see everyone again in NYC!

*Thank you to my sponsors, Revenue Curve and Storkbrokers for providing me with a partial sponsorship to attend BlogHer.*

Stacie Vaughan

Stacie is the mom of two girls and lives in Ontario, Canada. She enjoys cooking/baking, photography, reading, DIY and is fueled by lots of coffee!

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