I got back home in the wee hours of the morning on Monday, after five unforgettable days in New York City. The BlogHer ’10 conference left me feeling incredibly tired… but so, so inspired. It was 1000x better than last year in every way.
First off, let me say that I didn’t go to BlogHer with any expectations. I made a list of people that I was dying to meet up with, but other than crossing names off said list, my only goals for the weekend were to have fun, make new friends, and enjoy the city.
And that I did. These are some of the highlights from my weekend…
Backyard Discovery, my sponsor
Even with it being on the East Coast this year, I’m not sure if I would’ve been able to make it to BlogHer if I hadn’t been fully sponsored. Backyard Discovery, and Litzky PR, the wonderful agency that represents them, are both just amazing. My daughters and I thank you many times over!
On Thursday afternoon, Backyard Discovery hosted an intimate luncheon at Osteria Del Circo and allowed me to invite a few friends. Most had just arrived that morning, so it was nice to be able to treat them to a delicious lunch. Christine, a fellow Backyard Discovery Ambassador, was there with her sister, Sara. Also in attendance were Debra, Jill, Shellie, and Janis. Janis won a LATISM scholarship just a few weeks ago… I was introduced to her blog as part of the scholarship selection committee, and was touched by what I read. Go take a peek!
“You look GREAT!”
I heard this over and over from old friends who noticed my weight loss (almost 30 pounds gone since BlogHer ’10!) Thank you. Talk about motivation! On Saturday I met with Tara Gidus, the Diet Diva, as part of the ‘Better for BlogHer’ challenge I’m working on with Healthy Choice. It felt good to open up to her about my struggles with portion control, losing my mother-in-law, and my kids’ eating habits. She stressed the importance of thinking about what I need. I’ll share some of her advice in a future post.
Last year, at BlogHer ’09 in Chicago, I felt incredibly alone at times. I didn’t know as many people as I do now. I didn’t belong to any group. This time around, it was completely different because I have found my tribe. I am a Latina in Social Media, and we made our mark at BlogHer.
First, by hosting the Social Fiesta on Thursday night. With lots of dancing, good food, and fabulous music – even a live mariachi band – it was a great start to the weekend.
That was followed by the Latinas in Social Media session on Friday afternoon, which was a huge success. I was thrilled that the room was filled with a perfect mix of marketers and bloggers, not all of whom were Latinas. The panel, pictured below, did a great job.
Instead of spending all of 20 minutes at a party and then moving on to the next one (i.e., party hop) I only went to a select few, and stuck around. This meant I missed a handful of great events, but I don’t regret it. The way I see it, it opened up a spot for another blogger and allowed me to enjoy each party to the fullest. I learned that I don’t mind walking by myself into a party, but finding a familiar face or two in the crowd makes it that much more fun (especially after a few drinks). Some of the best moments were those times spent sitting and chatting with good friends like Robyn, Cathy, Niri, Louise, Patty, Blanca, Connie, and Maricris.
One of my favorite parties was Hallmark’s ‘Christmas in August’ on Friday night. At the penthouse of the Buckingham Hotel only a few blocks from the Hilton, it was a low-key affair, but oh-so-fun! Yummy food, free-flowing drinks, and cookie decorating, surrounded by friends and a handsome St. Nick, made for the perfect holiday party!
From left to right: Me, Ms. Latina, Nick, and Caro
Another great event was the Juno Baby brunch at FAO Schwarz… because it included my kids! Maya and Maura got a special private tour of the store before it opened, a $25 gift card to buy whatever they wanted, and a bag full of Juno Baby goodies, while I sat and listened to Belinda Takahashi, founder of the company, and Barrett Cohn, CEO, tell us all about the Juno Baby brand.
big piano at FAO Schwarz
With only my cellphone and a map of the route in hand, I can proudly say I ran a 5K at 6:30 in the morning in midtown Manhattan. Organized by Shannon, we ran to support Tutus For Tanner and raise awareness about muscular dystrophy. I left money and subway card back in the room, knowing well that it would be too easy to just hop in a cab once I was too tired to keep going. 58 minutes later, I stepped through the front doors of the Hilton, sweaty and out of breath. The hard pavement, traffic lights at every block, and weaving in and out of people rushing to work didn’t make for a fun run, unfortunately. Would I sign up for the BlogHer 5K again? Probably not – since I was literally running on fumes – but I’m proud of myself for finishing.
Nearly 100 sponsors on two floors of the Expo Hall seemed overwhelming on paper, but it wasn’t all that bad because it was so well done. Hallmark, Healthy Choice, MyBlogSpark, Playskool, Procter & Gamble, and Ubisoft, are just a few of the sponsors who really get it.
Proctor & Gamble actually constructed a house with different rooms showcasing their huge variety of brands. Ubisoft had a stage dedicated to Just Dance… Maya, my 5-year-old, may have been one of the first kids to ‘shake her sillies out’ with the new Just Dance: Kids! I also bumped into Chris “the Toy Guy” Byrne, and Jim from Time to Play. Love those guys!
The swag was nice, of course, but Tara’s words resonated with me. How much do we really need? I gave a lot away and left a ton behind. The girls brought home as much as they could carry. Surprisingly, two little girls can carry quite a bit!
I didn’t have to go more than a couple of miles away from the hotel, with so much to do nearby. The stores on 5th Avenue (shopping at the Apple Store at 1:30 in the morning was a dream!), Central Park, Rockefeller Center, Times Square… all within walking distance. The famous Halal cart on 53rd and 6th was right across the street. The white sauce – ask for extra – and the red sauce – it’s spicyyyy. Get the combo.. totally worth the wait!
My biggest supporter, she flew in from TX just to watch the girls for the weekend. Can’t thank her enough!
Like last year, I regret not taking more photos. I need to invest in one of those teeny tiny cameras that can fit in my pocket, as lugging my big Nikon D40 around isn’t practical. Which one do you recommend?
Disclosure: As part of an ongoing relationship, Backyard Discovery provided my family with a wooden playset and covered my BlogHer ’10 conference expenses.