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Camp Blogaway Weekend

A few weeks ago my son and I planted a grapevine in our backyard, and we have been fascinated by watching its progress. When we first planted it, the vine had two main branches that needed to be propped up against the fence and stakes. Now as the vine is relaxing and becoming comfortable in our soil, we are able to watch it claim its own space. As the little tendrils appear, these new branches seem like adventurous little souls. They each go in their own direction, winding around as they make new connections to the supporting structure.

When I signed up for a weekend at Camp Blogaway, I knew that I had a lot that I wanted to learn, and there were definitely people that I wanted to meet. But what I had possibly underestimated was the sheer power of that combined network of bloggers and the synergy created when so many talented people brought together their experiences and creative talents. It was a dizzying weekend for me, from meeting so many incredible writers to learning about new ways to build a community.

When I got home I felt a little bit overwhelmed with all of the new information at my fingertips. I spent a few days just trying to read everyone’s blogs and catch up with all of the emails and tweets that followed, and at least an hour trying to get my feet wet in StumbleUpon. But at a certain point I told myself: Just. Relax. I tried to picture myself as our fledgling grapevine out in the backyard, leaning against the fencepost for support, and then slowly growing out tiny little tendrils that branch out and make stronger connections every day.

I think that this coming year is going to be an exciting year for the Jolly Tomato.  I have a few projects in the works and I have a better idea of how to get some more of those ideas out. And I feel energized and excited about getting to know a whole bunch of people who are doing similar things and whom I can lean on for support. And for me, that’s one of the most exciting outcomes from Camp Blogaway – feeling like the Jolly Tomato is finally well-planted and ready to flourish.

Huge thanks to so many speakers who inspired me this weekend, especially Greg from Sippity Sup, Cheryl from 5 Second Rule, Susan from Food Blogga, Joy from Joy the Baker, Jennifer from Savoring the Thyme. Thanks to my roomies Melissa from Well Prepped and Suzanne from You Can’t Eat What? and my road trip buddy Jennifer from Kitchy Cooking.  And a big shout-out to the healthy family/kids food bloggers I loved chatting with including Laura from Family Spice, Valentina from Cooking on the Weekends, Rashmi from Yum Kid, Kelly from The Lunch Bunch, and Rachael from La Fuji Mama. Oh, and to Andrew from Eating Rules for summing it all up so well during his Golden Pinecone honor.

Also a big thanks to those sponsors who gave us lots of food for thought and new ideas, especially the California Avocado Commission, Wente Vineyards, the National Watermelon Promotion Board, Fiji Water,  the Idaho Potato Commission, Wilton (my very first fondant!) and Safe Eggs. (Here you see two very excited boys prowling through the swag bags when I got home.) The California Avocado and the Safe Eggs folks were also generous enough to give me a few extra toy avocados and eggs to hand out at my kids’ nutrition class that I’m teaching next week, so I was happy to make that connection. Now I’m ready to get back into the blogging world, “knockers up” (thank you, Patti) and ready to go.

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21 Responses to Camp Blogaway Weekend

  1. Cathy/ShowFoodChef May 5, 2011 at 1:35 pm #

    Absolutely loved meeting you and the pic of your boys looking through the bag is heart-stealing 😀 After things get caught up, let’s def meet for coffee/tea/water, etc. 😀

    • jollytomato May 5, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

      Thanks, Cathy! You’re on! : )

  2. Patti at Camp Blogaway May 5, 2011 at 1:43 pm #

    So glad you joined us, and GREAT WRITEUP, excellent job. Looking forward to seeing you at future camps.

    • jollytomato May 5, 2011 at 2:19 pm #

      Thanks, Patti! From a fellow Virgo, your organizational skills are much appreciated! ; )

  3. Laura @ Family Spice May 5, 2011 at 2:43 pm #

    I know what you mean about feeling overwhelmed with information! I really enjoyed chatting with you. And I can TOTALLY relate to your picture of the kids going through your swag bag! Mine did the same!

    • jollytomato May 5, 2011 at 4:03 pm #

      Thanks, Laura! Ditto for me.
      And yes, those kids know a good thing when they see it!

  4. Melissa {The Fresh 20} May 5, 2011 at 4:59 pm #


    In my book, your top shelf! I’d room with you anytime!

    In happiness,


    • jollytomato May 5, 2011 at 9:31 pm #

      Thanks, Melissa! Ditto!

  5. Lana May 5, 2011 at 6:56 pm #

    My head is still reeling – it will take time to get used to the routine after the camp:)
    This was my first conference, and I can relate:)
    Great recap!
    My girls were doing the same thing like your boys, and I was happy to share some of the loot with them.
    I hope you managed to master StumbleUpon (if I could have done it, any body can:)

    • jollytomato May 5, 2011 at 10:27 pm #

      Thanks, Lana… I think it is just going to take a while to mentally unpack all that we crammed into our heads this weekend. Glad to hear your girls liked the bags too!

  6. Kristina Vanni May 7, 2011 at 7:36 pm #

    It was so great meeting you at camp Jeanne! I really enjoyed reading your re-cap here as well. We should all live everyday with confidence, drive and “knockers up!” I look forward to getting to know you better through your blog!

    • jollytomato May 7, 2011 at 9:45 pm #

      Thanks, Kristina! Me too!

  7. sippitysup May 8, 2011 at 12:14 pm #

    I am so glad to have met you and appreciate your kind words. I love the grape vine analogy. It’s just how I felt one year ago! I have learned so much in that year since my first CampBlogaway… GREG

  8. jollytomato May 8, 2011 at 4:42 pm #

    Thanks, Greg! It’s good to know that you were in my shoes once too! : )

  9. Valentina May 8, 2011 at 11:42 pm #

    Jeanne, I love this! I felt exactly the same way upon returning home. (And I too. spent an hour — at least — trying to grasp Stumble!) Thank you for the shout out! Excited to launch my blog in a week!

    • jollytomato May 9, 2011 at 8:30 am #

      Thanks, Valentina! I’m glad I wasn’t the only one. : )
      Looking forward to the launch of the new blog!!!

  10. Jennifer May 9, 2011 at 6:50 pm #

    Loved being your driving buddy both to and from camp. And appreciated getting to know another blogger that lives so darn close. Good luck in the upcoming year, can’t wait to see how Jolly Tomato grows.

    • jollytomato May 9, 2011 at 8:37 pm #

      Me too!!! Thanks, Jenn!

  11. Kim May 19, 2011 at 9:42 pm #

    I too, was overwhelmed after coming home from Camp. SO many ideas, SO many thoughts, SO many things to incorporate!!! Then I took a chill pill. 🙂

    I really wish there was another day at Camp because there was “just” enough of us that I didn’t get a chance to really meet and greet “everyone.” Maybe next year?! 🙂



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