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Mixed Con 2013

VirginiaOdds are good that if days go by without my posting here, something’s up. And indeed there was something up over the past few days. Me. Up on a mountain top. With zero phone service for three days. Can you even imagine? No phone. No texting. No talking to anyone other than people you see in real life. What a novel idea, eh?

This past weekend I was at the very famous hotel where the movie Dirty Dancing was filmed. The Mountain Lake Lodge, a Virginia mountain top property which was where the Mixed Conference was held. A food blogging conference that my girlfriends Susan and Paula founded last year. I had such a great time at the conference last year that I decided to go again. A very good decision because I had a unique opportunity…

Running with TweezersIf you’ve been reading my blog for any length of time, you know that I’m keenly interested in food photography. My blog A Beautiful Bite requires that I have beautiful pictures. I sort of set myself up for that expectation by choosing that name for my blog. You can’t have a beautiful bite with crappy photos.

But I have to be honest with you, learning about food photography has been a real struggle. And even though I get some decent shots for my food blog, I have to take a couple hundred images to get just a few usable shots. So when I heard that Helene Dujardin was going to be presenting a photography session along with Tami Hardeman, I knew I couldn’t miss the opportunity to learn from two of the best in the food photography/styling field.

Melanie's CameraMy first day at Mixed was spent with Helene and Tami along with some other bloggers who had signed up for the course. And I have to tell you, that class was game changing for me. I learned so very much in a short amount of time. Having Helene and Tami work with me one-on-one really opened my eyes to what I’ve been missing.

I learn by doing, so this was crucial for my growth. I only wish I could’ve spent another day with them. Even still, I can already see a change in my images which you might be able to pick up in my latest recipe post on A Beautiful Bite.

Big Bear's WifeMy good friend Angie from Big Bear’s Wife also signed up for the class. We worked alongside each other quietly except for the times we muttered the words “I have no idea what I’m doing” to each other. No wonder we get along so well.

Hello CupcakeBesides a kick butt photography class, there were lots of other great opportunities at Mixed. The authors of Hello, Cupcake were there showing us some super cool decorating tips.

McCormick at MixedI’m no cake decorator, but you really don’t need to be one in order to make the creations in their book. With some help from the folks at McCormick, they showed us how to tint sugars, how to make super cute and easy cakes and decorating ideas that anyone can do in their own kitchen.

Melanie Decorating a CakeOk, so maybe I need a few more classes, but at least I got the icing on the cake in a sort of straight line. Don’t blow the picture up. It looks better from afar.

McCormick Cupcakes MixedThe folks from McCormick also force fed us cupcakes. Ok, they just nicely asked us to try them and you really can’t say no when someone asks you to please try a cupcake. It would be rude.

Hershey's at MixedThis was one conference where you didn’t want to be on a diet. Some conferences have coffee, tea and maybe muffins during break. We had a Hershey’s candy buffet. No one felt sleepy during the sessions.

Angie and MelanieMixed was awesome in so many ways. But I think my favorite thing about this conference is the people. People like the founders Susan and Paula who I’ve gotten to know over the last year. To the gal you see above, Angie, who has been a friend of mine since I started writing The Coupon Goddess back in the day. (that seems like a lifetime ago)

Melanie and HeleneAnd also new friends like Helene who I look forward to getting to know better. I’m leaving out a bunch of other people that are near and dear to me who were also at Mixed, but this would be a ridiculously long post if I listed them all.

NikkiBut I can’t resist sharing one last picture. This is my girlfriend Nikki. And here she is sporting her brand new whisk tattoo. And no, this is not a temporary tattoo. It’s the real deal. If you knew Nikki, you’d know this tattoo is totally her. The woman is always whipping up something incredible.

When I saw her tattoo, it got me thinking…

If I got a tattoo, what would it be and where would I put it?

Maybe a Kitchen Aid mixer on my lower back? Or how about a spatula on my shoulder? Maybe a vintage Pyrex mixing bowl in pink Gooseberry print on my right butt cheek?

Or how about nothing at all because I’m a total wimp and can’t handle pain. Yeah, that.

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  1. What fun!

  2. Looks as though you had a great time Melanie! Hope that you enjoyed it as much as it looks like you did. xx

    • It was amazing Amy. I really got so much out of this conference. So glad I went. I especially liked that it was over a weekend and not too incredibly far from home. Weekend conferences are so much easier to attend.

  3. Oh man, if I would have known that Helen was going to be giving a class I would have gone!!!! Looks like it was a blast!

  4. Good morning Melanie! I hope you and yours had a very Happy Thanksgiving!! This looks and sounds like a fabulous conference. Is that snow in the first pic?? Some of those photo props look vaguely familiar from A Beautiful Bite and I’m sure we will see some subtle improvements in your pix that I think are pretty darn good now! I hope you survived Black Friday and have a wonderful holiday weekend!

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