Hands-down, the best thing about BlogHer was the opportunity to meet other bloggers. Specifically, my girls Kathleen and Candice who got to witness just how frickin' long it takes me to get ready to go anywhere. And I think they still like me, anyway. (This picture is from the EyeFiCard BowlHer Flickr stream. Yes, I owned all of those clothing items before I heard of this event.)
I got to mingle with lots of fabulous bloggers, some famous and some not-so-famous, and it was good to realize that we're all pretty much geeks who like to write and/or take pictures. The Shutter Sisters were incredibly gracious in sharing their knowledge and interest of all things photographic and apparently I really need a Nikon D50. Aside from snazzy DSLR cameras that dangled like jewelry from many blogger's necks, my most-coveted item from BlogHer was the Yudu screenprinting machine. It looks easy and relatively economical to use and you can create tons of cool stuff. Way more fun than this photo of Gabrielle would lead you to believe…
I attended several of the panels, although some of my favorites were "Room of Your Own" sessions. Identity/Passions: Enough About You...Who's Reading You? featured an interesting quartet of bloggers (Laura Roeder, Twanna Hines, Ree Drummond and Susan Getgood) discussing readership, community and privacy issues. Totally interesting and I got to give Ree (Pioneer Woman, y'all!!!) some Chicken PooP so I was thrilled. Plus, I turned around during the session and noticed Gudrun sitting behind me... we'd been partners in a gift swap a while back, so it was a crazy coincidence. The kind that seems to happen a lot at BlogHer.
There were celebrity chefs to ogle, like Paula Deen (I couldn't get anywhere close to take a pic with my point-and-shoot) and Rick Bayless:
Listening to the crowd talk about Carson Kressley was almost as entertaining as listening to Carson Kressley talk. I geeked out and didn't even have my photo taken with him so I was happy to come across this one. (This picture is from the BabyJiDesign Flickr stream.) Even though I am smirking and bizarrely tan. Much like Carson, himself, I guess.
Staying in a hotel was nice. Comfy beds, luxurious bedding, the ability to crank the air to like 35º. Thank goodness Kathleen likes to sleep in Arctic conditions, too! The only bummer was not staying long enough to see Chicago. The view from our room was pretty spectacular. I think the tallest building in Wichita is like sixteen stories, no lie.
Companies sent stuff to our rooms, too! Crazy. I was so sad we couldn't take the gorgeous flowers home.
Realistically, though, there was a LOT of stuff to take home. Folks who have been to multiple BlogHers said that the swag lust at this one was insane and I can definitely believe it. There was so much stuff, it was frightening. And people were grabbing for it in very unseemly ways. It kind of creeped me out and made me question just how much stuff I really need when I have too much to review already. This is a picture of my swag pile, pre-packing. Keep in mind, Kathleen had a stack this big over on the other side of the room. We were swimming in stuff. Believe it or not, we were fairly selective in what we took.
The best "swag bag" was definitely from SocialLuxe, which was also the first party we attended. Coincidentally, the President was also at the Hyatt, which made it even more surreal. It was also the first place we witnessed the swag freakouts. People were in a frenzy over the free stuff. They gave you elastic wristbands to claim your goody bag and apparently people were tying them back on to get extra bags. Eeek! I kept thinking "that's someone's mom!" Not cool. And I guess it got even uglier when the bags ran out. I can't imagine yelling at the hosts of a fabulous party with tons of food and drink and entertainment because you didn't get gifts to take home. Double not cool. Most-coveted swag item in the bag: Kodak Zi6 Pocket HD Video Camera. Mine is pink and I am sure I will tell you more about it when I have time to try it out. Most totally random swag was also from the SocialLuxe bag:
Yes, it's a bobbleheaded doll version of Robert Osborne, the Turner Classic Movies guy. Huh? (I would have preferred season two of Mad Men…)
In the end, we had to pare the piles of stuff down into more manageable, packable size. Removing packaging, taking stuff we wouldn't use to the swag recycling booth, etc. If anyone wants to know the perfect swag item for next year, I would recommend duffel bags… my poor bags were busting at the seams.
The baggage handlers had a little note for me, too:
Back home in Wichita, Roo and Jasper hung some welcome signs on my office door:
It's good to be home.