BlogHer 2011 Review AND giveaway!
(Enter to win some swag, yo.).



I believe that sensory overload is defined as being a condition in which an individual receives an excessive or intolerable amount of sensory stimuli resulting in overload, confusion and sometimes hallucination.

Welcome to BlogHer 2011.

Oh peeps, it's a lot.

I mean, it's a lot. But not necessarily in a bad way at all! On the contrary...

We're going to do this in question in answer format because that's the way I roll.

Q. How was it?!
A. It was cool. I had a really nice time. Truth? It was a lovely way to spend a few days. San Diego was great. My roommate was great. All.was.well.

Q. What is it?
A. Here's what I think it is: BlogHer is a conference created for a vast group of 3,600 diverse bloggers and by default, brand representatives. Every other person I met was representing a new brand: cough drops, a jogging stroller shop, a new website, Pfizer, McDonald's, Hasbro. (The list goes on and on, but more on the brands later.)

Q. Why do people go?
A. In my estimation blogger attendees fall into two very distinctive camps:

If you're a blogger, you're going to either a.) meet up and chat and have fun and socialize with your twitter/facebook/fellow blogger peeps and network.

OR

If you're a blogger, you're going to b.) go to sessions that speak to whatever it is that you want to learn about. These folks are on track to learn as much as possible.

I think I felt somewhere in the middle. Although, I only knew one person out of 3,600 when I got there. (Enter, the grumbles)

Q. How do I know the grumbles?
A. Truth? She ran across my blog a few years ago by clicking the "next" button on the blogger task bar. (I couldn't BELIEVE that when she told me.)  I was the "next blog"... and she read me. And commented. And I commented on her blog. We've read about each other being pregnant, giving birth, toddlerhood, etc. We never met until the hallway of the San Diego Marriott outside of room 422 a few days ago. Awesome.

(And P.S.: we got along splendidly. She is great. Read her blog.)

Q. What was the average attendee like?
A. Impossible to answer this question. 

There were political bloggers intent on changing the world… and actually starting to do it. There were mommy bloggers who talked about everything from the insanity of motherhood to the coolness of cloth diapers. There were humor bloggers, fashion bloggers, technology bloggers. And these bloggers? Shockingly, they were all ages, all races and all sizes. I smiled each time I saw a 50+ blogger. It was refreshing and awesome to hear from women who know this industry inside and out and who know what they're doing.

Q. How did it work? What happened? 
A. When you arrive, you get a badge that entitles you to absolutely everything that BlogHer has to offer. This means you can attend any session throughout the day. (They encourage you to walk out if the session you've selected doesn't speak to you; the organizers want you to find a session that works for you.)

Sessions are about everything: from writing professionally, to refreshers on editing skills, to good blog design, media literacy, growing your blog through social media channels, adding community to your blogs, pitching your blogs to brands, food photography and more. 

Q. Do they feed you?
A. Omg, do they feed you? Let's just say that the button on my jeans popped off the morning I was flying home. (I wish that was a joke. It's not. And I'm not looking forward to sewing a button back on my jeans. Sewing blows.)

There's food everywhere you look. Pepsi was an official sponsor, so there were cans of that brand everywhere. Dove was an official sponsor -- hello frozen treats and sweet foil-covered chocolates. The food was sufficient. I enjoyed it. In fact, I *may* have over-indulged.

Q. Were the people nice?
A. Absolutely. Without a doubt. I found nearly all of the women to be incredibly friendly and inclusive. More than several times the grumbles and I would split up throughout the day and do our own things. During these times, I met more lovely women. One of my faves was met in the Lactation Lounge.

Q. What? The, "Lactation Lounge"?
A. Yep. The Lansinoh brand sponsored a quiet room where breastfeeding and pumping moms could retreat to sit on questionably comfy couches to nurse or pump. They also provided a fridge where you could store milk, etc. I met an incredible person: Nat from Crafting Crazy and her sweet baby Miss Em.  It's amazing how easy it is to bond with someone when you're sitting there, shirt down, pumping. 

Three cheers to Lansinoh for sponsoring the space.

Q. What did I do with the milk I pumped?
A. I donated it! A twitter friend/fellow blogger found a Mom in need in San Diego and she received over 200 bags of milk from about 10 of us. Um. Cool.

Q. So, were men there? And kids? And babies?
Q. Yep, yes and uh-huh. There were more than a handful of men walking around. Some were bloggers. Some were representing brands and companies. The men I couldn't help but smile at were the ones pushing strollers or holding the hands of their toddlers while their significant others sat and listened in sessions. These men deserved a special badge. Diving head-first into the world's largest estrogen pool has got to be daunting, but they handled it with grace. One particular man that the grumbles and I met was there to support his partner, Bon. Bon was one of the recipients for the Voices of the Year award because of this post that she read to the entire group. Read it. (P.S. She was super cool.)

And yep, there were babies there. It was SUCH a welcoming place for little ones. It made me smile during sessions when I'd hear a baby squeal or take a look at the back of the room and see a mommy nursing. Such a welcoming environment.

Q. Did I see celebrities?
A. Tee hee. It depends. Do you think Mario Lopez and Ryan Cabrera are celebrities? We also heard from Ricki Lake - she was beautiful and well-spoken and enthusiastic about blogging. (She has a new talk show coming out this fall.) 

My favorite celebrity would have to be the Jimmy Dean sun from the Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage commercials, though.

(Um, AWESOME?)


He was such a sweet gracious ball of light. I love that he's wearing a watch. That's clearly how he knows when it's time to rise.

I also met the Scrubbing Bubble, too. :)



Q. Let's talk about the brands. Were they everywhere? Did you feel as if you were selling your soul to the man?
A. Kids, I have never seen anything quite like this in all of my life. Imagine a GIGANTIC expo hall filled to the brim with booths of all sizes representing every possible brand that you could image: skinny cow deserts, skinny girl margaritas, 3M school supplies, scrubbing bubbles, Knorr, CVS, Glad, Twizzlers, Hallmark, Snapfish, Lowe's, Philsophy, Dr. Scholl's… Honestly, it was insanity. Hillshire farms even had a RESTAURANT in the place. (I ate there more than once.)

And each booth had swag that they wanted to give away.

To be honest, there were some brands I love and stand by. I adore PaperCulture and enjoyed talking with the representatives immensely. It's a company after my own heart. I'm so excited that my giveaway includes a $50 gift certificate to be used on an order before Nov 2011. 

Was it too much? Eh. That's debatable. I definitely didn't go there for the swag. I did appreciate some of it, though. However, there were some booths I absolutely steered clear of.

Q. Did I have a good time? Would I do it again?
A. I had a fantastic time. I walked away with some pearls, some ideas for my blog (and my life!) and a re-ignited appreciation for women and the power of the written word. It's beyond powerful to know that women can make positive change on a one-on-one, community level -- or on a global scale. I know it's true, because these women are doing it.

Q. Would I attend again?
A. You know, I absolutely would. I haven't decided if I'll go next year. Perhaps I'll go every other year… perhaps every two years. I'm not sure, but I know that when I return -- I'll be welcomed in again with open arms. 

BlogHer is the coolness.

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Want to win a swag bag from BlogHer? I'm giving away two boxes of stuff. One is baby/toddler related and the other is general.

To enter and win:

1. Leave a comment and tell me which box you'd prefer: the baby box or the general box
2. Leave a comment confirming that you've become a fan of my facebook page: http://www.facebook.com/TwoPretzels (Search Two Pretzels) (If you're already a fan, leave a comment saying so -- and I'll count that as an entry.)
3. Follow me on twitter and leave a comment saying that you've done so. (If you've already followed me, leave a comment. I'll count that as an entry.) http://www.twitter.com/twopretzels

SO - you can leave up to THREE comments and have THREE entries.

Good luck, ya'll. And let me know if you plan on going to BlogHer next year. It's in New York City...

I will be closing the giveaway on Monday, August 15th. So, leave a comment before then!

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42 comments:

  1. I love that you had such a great time. And I LOVE that you got your photo taken with Jimmy Dean and the Scrubbing Bubble. And how AMAZING of you (and those other women) to donate your milk to someone in need. Truly amazing.

    It sounds like sensory overload. Like, you would leave with a brain full of ideas/questions/thoughts/etc. swirling around. I bet it will make for great upcoming blog content.

    ...and lastly, well, I'd love to win a swag bag (because it sounds 'cool'). I'm having a baby, so I'll say the baby box.

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  2. I love your writing style! Perhaps because we spoke under such hilarious circumstances I can hear your voice when I read- love it! And that Jimmy Dean sun guy- he's da bomb. He was so friendly and normal. All of the other costumed things freaked me out, but he was totally nice. Thanks for the mention!

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  3. As I was reading your post, I couldn't help but remember you in High School...always writing and thinking of neat stuff to say in our yearbook, paper, or whatever it was we had to write. I am in awe of how you're able to do that. I also think it was neat that you were able to attend the BlogHer event and be able to see the many different ways of doing things and new stuff (and free stuff) that companies are putting out.

    Were you able to meet Matt Logelin? I don't know if he was going to the event or not.

    Thank you in advance for giving away free things. In today's world, I think we all need a boost of sunshine:) Being that I'm not planning on any more children, I'd love to win the other non-baby box.
    Kerrie

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  4. you are the highlight of my life. :)

    we had such fun and it was so NOT AWKWARD.

    two pretzels readers: yes, she's just as nice as she seems.

    your commentary about how everything worked and who was there is spot on.

    i'm going to attempt to write about it this morning but i just have no idea where to start, it was HUGE (literally, figuratively, emotionally, timechangingly)

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  5. Wow, it sounds like an amazing time. Glad you were able to go and experience it! And I totally think that the Jimmy Dean Sun and the Scrubbing Bubble are way cooler than Mario Lopez and Ryan Cabrera.

    Unfortunately, I don't think I'd go to BlogHer...I'd feel so out of my element and awkward - it would just be so overwhelming, I don't think I'd be able to take full advantage of all it has to offer.

    BUT, I would love me some swag...and since I have a toddler AND a baby due in the next 33 days, I'd go with the baby box!

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  6. AND, I'm already a Two Pretzels facebook fan. :o)

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  7. Wow - that sounds like so much fun!! And so cool that you were able to donate your milk!

    I wish I would've met you there. Maybe in a couple years if you go again. :-)

    General box sounds good but I need to friend you on FB. :-)

    My word verification is anus. Dirty!

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  8. As you know I am a weekly reader sometimes daily reader of your sweet blog!You make me laugh, i love your reviews, and your kiddos melt heart! That lila is a hoot!!! So anyhow glad you had a nice few days w/o kiddos and believe it's beyond cool you were able to donate your breastmilk!!! I so wish I would have done more of that when I was nursing!

    Anyhow--either box sounds great as I know people who have had just had babies that I can share w/ and the general box is fun for me:)

    Have a great day cutie!
    Danielle Johnson Binkowski

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  9. Um, I totally want a fun box! Either would be fun. (Sad, since I couldn't go).

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  10. I am loving reading all the BlogHer recaps! I'm beyond convinced that I need to go next year. And as bonus, NYC is actually do-able for me. San Diego would not have been.

    I'm gonna pick the general box because, well, as a mama of two, I rarely get something just for me!

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  11. I follow you on twitter! I'm @tehamy!

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  12. Sounds like a blast! :-) I would love the non-baby box! And I am already a fan on facebook! :-)

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  13. BlogHer sounds like it was amazing - of course! I'm so excited that it's in NYC next year...I am going to do my best to get there (it's on my 'wish list' of bloggy conferences for 2012). I think my favorite thing about blogging/social media conferences is the sense of empowerment and "oh heck YEAH, i CAN do this!" that you walk away with.

    I would love a chance to win the "general" box :)

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  14. and I follow you Twitter (of course) :)

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  15. and....i "like" you on FB.

    (OK, i like you "off" FB too...but you know what i mean)

    :)

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  16. This just sounds like an absolutely wonderful experience and I am so happy that you had such a great time. I am not too prideful to say that I am completely envious of this experience. You go girl!

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  17. wahoo ky!! i'm so glad to read the wrap up, and am SO glad you had such a great experience. i must confess that, although i'm having a pretty good day so far, the picture of you and the jimmy dean sun MADE my day. totally. you're both so cute. :)

    it'd be a hoot to receive a swag bag -- if only for "research purposes" if nothing else. this swag biz is cut-throat. :) i'd probably prefer the non-baby one (at least, this time 'round). thanks!

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  18. I like cool swag. So glad you were able to get away and have such a great time.
    Enter me for the Fun box.
    My kiddos have too much. I want me stuff.

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  19. You know I'm already a Facebook fan and Twitter follower -- I mean, durr.

    Plus I just adore you generally. And the picture of you with the Jimmy Dean sausage sun was the highlight of my weekend. :)

    I'm SO glad you got to go -- this just seems like a very YOU type of event. And I love that you got to room with The Grumbles -- tres cool to put faces with...live faces.

    And, um, swag is pretty cool. As for which box, I'll say the baby box. I have a lot of expectant friends these days! :)

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  20. Hey lady. Twitter. Obviously. Comment. CHECK! And Facebook like, doneski! Three in one! Baby. Cause well - our babies are so close in age. ;)

    'Cause I'm concise like that.

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  21. My heart was actually tight the whole time I knew that you and Grumblies were frolicking about San Diego without me. Jealous. I haz it.

    I'm entering the giveaway, but I'll let you be the judge of what I want.

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  22. Hi there! Found you from the Scrubbing bubbles twitter page!

    I would love to win the baby box full of stuff!

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  23. just became a facebook fan!
    amylynn.field@gmail.com

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  24. Followed on twitter as kittycrossbones :)

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  25. I am SO glad you had such a fun time! That is cool they have so many sessions you can go to, I didn't realize it was like that. And how fantastic that it is such a comfortable place for women to breastfeed or pump or even take their kids. It is nice to give women that option.

    That picture of you with the Jimmy Dean sun = AWESOME!

    I would like to formally enter my name in the drawing for the baby swag!

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  26. ....I also follow you on twitter....

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  27. .....and follow twopretzels on FB :)

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  28. How cool. I'd say you have to have a pretty great personality to thrive in a place like that, especially going almost solo!

    Hmmm...the swag, I suppose I could take either option, I wouldn't be picky :)

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  29. and, well I'm already following you on twitter :) Duh.

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  30. And OF COURSE I'm already a fan on FB!

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  31. I enjoyed reading about your experiences.

    I would prefer the general prize box.

    Thank you.

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  32. I am a fan of your facebook page (Wendy T).

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  33. Following on twitter (@won2x).

    Thank you.

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  34. Oh I'd be so thankful for the baby/toddler box - I have both!

    shannoncarman at yahoo dot com

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  35. The only BlogHer I got to go to was '09 since it was in my city, Chicago. Been sad I've missed out every year since.

    I'd totally love the general box since I'm no where near having children.

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  36. following on twitter!

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  37. Of course I follow you on Twitter!

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  38. I would love the general box.

    hewella1 at gmail dot com

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  39. I like you on facebook.

    hewella1 at gmail dot com

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  40. How did I forget to enter?! EEeep! Here's my entry! I'd love the general box o' goodies.

    That Jimmy Dean picture makes me smile.

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