Last weekend I was in Chicago for the 2009 BlogHer Conference, where I had a good time hanging out with blogging friends and getting a few blogging tips. This is the fourth time I’ve attended the BlogHer summer conference, and every time it’s been a growing experience for me. I’m a huge fan of BlogHer, which you can tell because I write for I support BlogHer’s mission of promoting women bloggers, and have utmost respect for the organization and its co-founders Lisa Stone, Elisa Camahort Page, and Jory Des Jardins. Right now there is a conversation going on about what worked and what didn’t work at BlogHer ’09, so if you were there and have opinions, please go to and give your feedback. (So much more classy than writing some kind of rant on your blog about something that happened to rub you the wrong way.)

For this post, I thought it might be fun to start my personal photo gallery with this charming centerpiece (made entirely of vegetables!) from the Friday lunch provided by Ragu. Each year the conference has generous corporate sponsors who subsidize the costs, which has allowed the registration fee to stay at $99 per day for the last five years. The sponsors also give away more free stuff than anyone could ever carry home (some of which is actually pretty cool.) If you didn’t make it to BlogHer this year, check the links after my photos for where to see videos, recaps, liveblogging, and more photo galleries. I’ll also put links there for the food bloggers you see in these photos, so if there are people who are new to you, please go check out their blogs!

Before I went to Chicago I shared on the blog about one reason I was excited to go to Chicago. Yes, I did make it to Penzeys, thanks to my great blogging friend Lydia, who helped me get there on the train (I’m geographically impaired!) Thanks also to Lydia for this photo (taken with her iPhone) to document that I was there. (Not sure why I have such a funny look on my face, but I will say that trying to smile for photos with braces is a bit of a challenge.)

I loved visiting Penzeys, but my visit to The Spice House the same day may have been even more life-changing. Another iPhone photo taken by Lydia, and this time it’s me with Patty Penzey Erd (yes, she’s from the same Penzey’s family.) Patty gave us a great lesson about various types of cinnamon and then generously provided Cassia cinnamon as a gift for the food bloggers we were having dinner with. The Spice House has many of the same spices as Penzey’s, but they also have eclectic offerings that are really unique. I bought some fun things that will probably be showing up on the blog.

Friday morning, and lots of friends had breakfast together, many of whom knew each other from last year in San Francisco. From left, Stephanie from A Year of Slow Cooking, Lydia from The Perfect Pantry, Biggie from Lunch in a Box, Gudren from Kitchen Gadget Girl, Jeanette from Pasta Queen, and Alanna from Kitchen Parade. (Remember, there are links for everyone after the photos.)

After breakfast we wandered around a bit a ran into some more friends. From left is Elise from Simply Recipes, Cora from Cora Cooks, Lydia, Kelly from Sounding My Barbaric Gulp, Alanna, Jaden from Steamy Kitchen, and me.

This photo is from Maris from In Good Taste, who let me grab it from her Facebook page. From left, Sandie from Inn Cuisine, Gudren, Maris, Kristen from Dine and Dish (holding the adorable Leah), and Kathy from Panini Happy.

Jaden was speaking on a panel on Friday about Brands and Bloggers, and I snapped a photo of her waiting to get her mike fitted. (While we were there Jaden gave me an advance copy of her soon-to-be-released Steamy Kitchen Cookbook, which is going to be stunning. Thanks Jaden!)

One of the highlights of Friday for me was getting to see celebrity chef Rick Bayless, who did a cooking demonstration where I had a life-changing experience watching him chop cilantro. (More on that later, plus the recipe for what he cooked coming soon.) I had gone to his restaurant Topolobampo on Wednesday with Lydia and her husband Ted, and we had fun telling him how much we enjoyed it. (More about Topolobampo coming soon too.)

Friday night all the food bloggers went to dinner at one of my favorite long-time Chicago restaurants called Greek Islands. This is Jane from This Week for Dinner, Kelly, and Jaden hanging out while we waited for our tables.

There were people snapping photos everywhere. This is Elise, Kathy, and Roni from Green Lite Bites.

Eventually I used my best school-teacher voice and rounded everyone up into a big group, only to find out I couldn’t get them all in one shot. Here’s the first half of the group, from left, Kristen (far back), Lydia, Maris, Cora (peeking through), Sara from Ms. Adventures in Italy, Krista from Londonelicious, Biggie, Roni (way in back), Stef from Iron Stef, Kelly, Jennifer from Savor the Thyme, and Elise.

Here’s the second half of the group waiting for dinner, from left, Jaden, Hetal from Show Me the Curry, Alanna, Anuja from Show Me the Curry, Stephanie, Sandie (hidden), Kristen (half hidden), Lydia, and Maris.

At dinner, enjoying the Greek food, from left, Anuja, Krista, Hetal, Kim from Building Blocks Show, Kristen, Stephanie, and Gudren.

At the middle table, from left, Sandie, Kelly, Stef (partly hidden), Elise, and Jennifer.

This is the other side of the table with Alanna, Kathy, an empty spot where I should have been if I wasn’t taking photos, and Sandie.

At the third table we had Roni, Sara, Jaden, and Biggie who were obediently posing for me when I asked them to.

Also at that table was Ree from Pioneer Woman Cooks, Jaden, Cora, plus Lydia and Anne Marie from This Mama Cooks, who somehow didn’t get into the photo. (We were honored that Ree took time to have dinner with us because she had her family in Chicago with her. Yes, I did see Marlboro Man and he was quite charming.)

Fast forward to Saturday, which turned out to have an exciting start as some of our friends got to meet Food Network celebrity Dave Lieberman. From left are Maris, Kathy, Jaden, Dave, Elise, Jennifer, and Alanna. (Thanks again to Maris who let me grab this photo from Facebook as well.)

That same day Paula Deen was going to make an appearance in the exhibit hall, so as you can imagine we food bloggers were there. (Unfortunately Paula’s plane was late and only a few of us actually got to stick around long enough to see her.) From left, Jaden, Cora, Sandie, Alanna, Jennifer (far back), Elise, Jane (far back) Sara, and Krista.

Whew! I hope I didn’t mess up too many names. As you can tell, we had a lot of fun, and even learned a few things about blogging too. Now as promised, here are the blog links for all these lovely ladies.

Lydia Walshin from The Perfect Pantry
Elise Bauer from Simply Recipes
Kathy Strahs from Panini Happy
Kristen Doyle (and Leah) from Dine and Dish
Maris Callahan from In Good Taste
Cora Sedlacek from Cora Cooks
Deb “Biggie” Hamilton from Lunch in a Box
Gudrun Enger from Kitchen Gadget Girl
Jennifer Leal from Savor the Thyme
Ree Drummond from Pioneer Woman Cooks
Jaden Hair from Steamy Kitchen
Sandie Hale from Inn Cuisine
Alanna Kellogg from Kitchen Parade
Sara Rosso from Ms. Adventures in Italy
Kelly Schmickle from Taming My Barbaric Gulp
Stephanie Tolle from Iron Stef
Stephanie O’Dea from A Year of Slow Cooking
Anne Marie Nichols from This Mama Cooks
Hetal Jannu from Show Me the Curry
Anuja Balasubramanian from Show Me the Curry
Krista Nannery from Londonelicious
Roni Noone from GreenLiteBites
Jane Maynard from This Week for Dinner
Kim Sacha from Building Blocks Show
Jeanette Fulda from Pasta Queen

If You Missed the Conference, There’s More About it Here:
Videos from BlogHer ’09
Photo Galleries from BlogHer ’09
Recaps of BlogHer ’09
Official Session Live Blogs from BlogHer ’09

Other Food Bloggers Dish on BlogHer ’09
Cora calls BlogHer 09 The Gift that Keeps on Giving
Maris shares her experiences because You Haven’t Read Enough About It Already
Kim talks about BlogHer ’09 Food Blogger Dinner
Kristin has Babies, BlogHer, and Banana Bars (and Leah meets Paula Deen)
At, Alanna wraps up Food Bloggers at BlogHer 09
Gudren finds out about our gadgets for Food Blogger Meetup at Blogher in Chicago
Roni tells us about Two Days of Fabulous Friends and Bad Pictures
Krista reviews Greek Islands, Chicago

I’m Developing the BlogHer Conference Habit:
Food Bloggers at BlogHer 2006
Food Bloggers at BlogHer 2007
Food Bloggers at BlogHer 2008
Meeting Food Bloggers at BlogHer Boston

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