Archive for the 'BlogHer' Category

Notes from the UnConference

Although I promised not to report any further on BlogHer ’08, I do have one pressing obligation that I vowed to have off my plate before the end of the weekend: posting notes from the blog re-branding session that Diana of Of The Princess and The Pea and I hosted together on Sunday morning.

The attendees (and once again, I hope this is a complete list, but if it’s not, please yell via comments and I’ll add you…) included me and Diana, Kat of KungFoodie, Shuna of Eggbeater, Sarah of Findableblogs.com, Leah of Califmom, Claire of Cookthink, Susan of the Broad Humor Film Festival, Jeannette of Half of Me, Shannon of the Walden University Alumni Blog, Genie of In A Bottle, and Kristen of Lively Women. The notes are pretty conversational, though, so even if you weren’t part of the discussion, feel free to download a copy — you might find something of use, if you’re looking at making some sort of change in your blogging topic, focus or arena.

The report from BlogHer ’08

If you’ve been following my Twitter account over the past few days and weren’t a BlogHer ’08 attendee, you’re probably about ready to abandon me, either because you wanted to be there and are madly jealous, or because you couldn’t give a whit about the conference and you would prefer I stick to my regular Twitter diet of odd musings about my walking commute down Oakland’s mean streets.

Note to those of you in the former category: keep an eye on registration for next year, because the conference keeps getting better and better.

But, to appease those in the latter category, I promise that the BlogHer-related Tweets will careen to a halt, and that this will wrap up my formal coverage of BlogHer ’08 for the week. Or the month. Or some other time period as yet to be determined.

Regardless, the conference provided one of the best opportunities in women’s blogging to put faces with words, and to meet new bloggers who I had not yet stumbled across in my prodigious RSS feed reading. One can never have too many posts in one’s feed reader, I always say.

OK, I never say that. But this is the age of the Internet, so I’m at least trying to get that phrase into circulation. It’s better if you say it in a slightly snooty accent, by the way.

I did end up going with my tagline (“It’s amazing what I’ll do for a good tomato.”) for Kalyn’s Food Bloggers’ Birds of a Feather gathering. Others interpreted the 10-word assignment a little differently, either stringing together 10 random words or not following Kalyn’s guidelines at all, or, in the case of one hapless PR person, meandering through a pitch for whatever site she represented (it does not speak well of her pitch that I cannot remember what she was talking about…) until she got to about word 75 and Kalyn reminded her diplomatically and firmly of all the other people patiently waiting to speak.

Friday night featured a terrific dinner at R&G Lounge with a bevy of amazing food bloggers: Kathy of Panini Happy, Andrea of Andrea’s Recipes, Shuna of Eggbeater, Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen, Sean of Hedonia, Elise of Simply Recipes (Thanks for the mug, Elise!), Lydia of The Perfect Pantry, Sara of Ms. Adventures in Italy, Amy of Cooking with Amy, Claire of Cookthink (Thanks for the tea towel, Claire!), Jennifer Jeffrey and myself. If I forgot someone, which I hope I did not, bug me via comments and I’ll happily update.

On Saturday, I finally got to meet Deb Roby, who is a Home, Garden and DIY editor for BlogHer and who also blogs at A Stitch in Time and Weight for Deb. She hosted a Home, Garden and DIY Birds of a Feather gathering Saturday that ranged through a variety of topics from everyone’s secret resources to sustainable products for the home.

On Sunday, I hit the UnConference, which is a free-form event where the attendees determine the agenda and take the discussion in whatever direction works best for all the small groups of participants. The move to Oakland has spurred me on to taking a closer look at my blog and where it’s going in its next phase (It’s like a teenager, this blog, with its phases and its moodiness and its storming around from topic to topic…), and I just happened to stand up and call for a session on going through a blog brand transition at the same time that Diana, maven of Of The Princess And The Pea, stood up and requested the same thing. We combined forces and ran the session together, and for those of you who joined that discussion, I promise to have the notes up by the end of this coming weekend.

I wrapped up the UnConference by spending about 45 minutes chatting with the only other Genie I’ve ever met in person—Genie Alisa of In a Bottle. We started the conversation by talking about WordPress, but moved on to life, how we depict it on our respective blogs, and how that affects the people around us and our relationships with them.

It was just the kind of discussion that makes BlogHer so rewarding—from a common platform, women who didn’t even read each others’ work before the weekend began went home feeling that much more connected to a larger community of women trying to do just the same thing: Tell a story, raise a hand and ask a question that might change the way someone else thinks, and maybe even make the world—online and offline—a little more beautiful.

Enchiladas for the journey

Remember how I said on Thursday night that I push deadlines but don’t miss them and that I’d report back about BlogHer, um, yesterday?

Well, make that tomorrow. The conference is still going on, it’s been an amazing weekend of networking and experiences and the occasional gratis glass of Prosecco (OK, maybe the occasional two glasses?), and I’ve gotten very little sleep because even when I get home, my brain is racing so hard I can’t get myself to go to bed.

And, in the meantime, I have a story to tell that has nothing to do with BlogHer, but is time-sensitive. Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen has made some tweaks to the rules for Weekend Herb Blogging, and technically, this story fits under the rubric of the old rules rather than the new. The new rules go into effect this coming week, so today is my last day to sneak this in under the wire. Sure, I could just post it without participating in WHB, but where would be the camaraderie in that?

And see? I’m just making a deadline!

So, even though I’m writing this from a conference room on Union Square in San Francisco, this goes back to my last days in Iowa, for a recipe that, much like my move to California, is not so much specific measurements, and more a wing-and-prayer approach of combining things that go well together, tossing them in the oven to bake, and enjoying what comes out.

I spent the first half of my last week in Iowa in California, actually, looking for an apartment. It was a crazy weekend of hoofing it around Oakland, following leads off Craigslist and taking deep gulps at the rents and the deposits required to move in. I signed a lease that Tuesday evening, boarded a red-eye back to Cedar Rapids, and then crawled into bed as soon as I got home in an attempt to avoid the amount of packing I had to finish in three days.

Because the move happened so quickly, I didn’t really have a chance to properly eat down all the food in my fridge and freezer, and because the winter had been so fraught with delayed travel, I hadn’t been home enough or rested enough to manage the proper cooking program I usually maintain.

This meant I still had some slow-roasted tomatoes in the freezer, and as anyone who reads Kalyn or Alanna of Kitchen Parade knows, you don’t waste slow-roasted tomatoes.

I also had made my last visit to the Iowa City Farmer’s Market that Wednesday night, planning mainly to pick up a few gifts for the folks who would be hosting me on my journey west, but deciding, while I was there, to grab a bunch of locally-grown asparagus. Even though I knew I had to stop using my cooking gear and get it into boxes, the asparagus looked to good not to buy it.

So, on Thursday night, I told Betsy to make time for one last dinner cooked in my big Iowa kitchen. It was time for enchiladas, which, over the course of my last year in Iowa, became one of my favorite go-to comfort foods. Fast, easy and, as I made them, arguably not that unhealthy, I started making large batches every couple of weeks, taking the leftovers for lunch or, on days when the comfort was necessary earlier in the day, eating them for breakfast.

Spinach and slow-roasted tomatoes

Spinach and slow-roasted tomatoes

I use an informal recipe, so informal that I’m not going to write it out in traditional fashion. But trust me…anyone can do this. I pre-heated the oven to 375 degrees, then pulled out my stoneware 9” x 12” pan (stoneware’s not required). I sauteed the slow-roasted tomatoes and a bag of baby spinach over medium-high heat until the spinach wilted, then mixed the tomatoes and spinach in a bowl with a diced package of baked tofu (hickory flavored) and three or four spoonfuls of salsa. These ingredients, it should be noted, are not written in stone—if you like mushrooms, or chicken, or black beans, or corn, try any or all of that.

I rolled that filling into spelt tortillas, but you can use flour tortillas or even corn, although warming the corn tortillas first will help keep them from cracking as you roll them up. I placed each tortilla seam-down in the pan, nestling them against each other so they held each other together. I poured a 12-ounce bottle of Trader Joe’s enchilada sauce (that’s my favorite brand, but any enchilada sauce will do) over the top and then sprinkled the whole pan-full with shredded Colby Jack. Eyeball the cheese until it seems right to you – there are days when just a light touch works great, but other days when extra cheese makes all the difference. Gauge your own mood accordingly.

Then I baked them up, uncovered, for 20 minutes, until the cheese had melted and the sauce around the edges bubbled and hissed.

Enchiladas, between asparagus and avocado

Enchiladas, between asparagus and avocado

I also roasted that asparagus, and plated up the enchiladas with the Iowa asparagus on one side and sliced avocado, which just happened to have been flown in from California, on the other. Betsy and I ate dinner at the kitchen table gleaned from another friend who passed it along just when I needed it most, as the light faded over my garden in the back. There would be no more cooking in Iowa, but it seemed just the right dinner to end on: one that featured ingredients from both states, that I served to a friend in the kitchen I’d loved since I first walked into it, and that offered nutrition and comfort for the journey.

This is my post for Weekend Herb Blogging, which is hosted this week by Archana of Archana’s Kitchen. Please stop by later in the weekend for the full round-up of posts!

The dog can’t eat this homework

Tomorrow morning, BlogHer ’08 kicks off. I’ll be there, in full force. In fact, I kicked off conference-related celebrating tonight at a party thrown by The Experience Project at Rye in the Tenderloin.

Note to cocktail enthusiasts and BlogHers looking for a tasty drink: Go to Rye, get yourself a Blue Moon, and you won’t be sorry.

It should be known that while I almost never (I’m not perfect, so I’m not even going to claim that on this here bloggerino…) miss a deadline, I have been known to carry one up to the, ahem, very last minute.

So it should be no surprise to me that I have not yet completed the assignment given by Kalyn of Kalyn’s Kitchen. It should be easy: write a 10-word introduction that describes your blog.

I admit: I have a blog tagline that fits that very description, but I’ve been waffling about whether it’s right for this assignment. I’ve got about 12 hours before I need to come up with an officially-presented answer.

Time’s ticking. Suggestions from the peanut gallery are always welcome, and I’ll report back on that (and on the garden bloggers’ meetup) on Saturday.

Going to BlogHer 2008?

Last summer, I lived a scant 4.5-hour drive from BlogHer 2007’s chosen location. I had all kinds of plans to be there for the conference, figuring that I could just steer my aging green Camry (and by green, I mean its color, not its environmental profile, at this point) toward Lakeshore Drive and have a blast with all kinds of fabulous women bloggers.

And then I realized what weekend it was. Thusly and therefore, I planned myself the most ridiculous travel weekend ever, which meant I got one solid day of BlogHering, followed by three hours of sleep, followed by continued crazy voyaging.

This year, when BlogHer announced it would return to the Bay Area for the third annual conference, I wrote it off. There was a point when I had an inkling I might move out here, but that was not a point at which I had any inkling I would be out here two months before the conference’s opening day.

Then I found myself a short BART ride away from the weekend’s activities. What’s a garden-oriented blogger to do but show up? This year, I’m in for all three days, including the Unconference on Sunday, July 20.

I'm attending the Home and Garden Meet-up. Are you?

I'm attending the Home and Garden Meet-up. Are you?

I float between life as a food blogger and life as a garden blogger, so I plan to be at the Food Bloggers’ Birds of a Feather meet-up on Friday, but will also attend Deb Roby’s Home and Garden BOF meet-up on Saturday. Deb’s going to interview bloggers at this event for a vodcast, so she’s looking for questions. Anything you’ve been dying to ask me but were afraid to comment about? Send it to Deb, and you never know what might end up on the Interwebs.

If you’re going to be at BlogHer 2008, please look for me. I love meeting other bloggers, and would love to get to know you better!


Getting in touch

Need garden advice? Then you probably shouldn't send me an email.

Also, please note that this site has now relocated and will not be updated. You can find me at the new and improved location.

Take a look back…



All words and images (unless otherwise credited) on The Inadvertent Gardener are © 2006-2008 Eugenia E. Gratto. All rights reserved.

Drop in & Decorate

Bake. Decorate. Donate.
Free guide tells you how!