Evo Conference: Learning, Sharing and Being Inspired

Last year, I was lucky enough to win a ticket to my first ever social media conference: Evo Conference in Park City, Utah. I was lucky enough to go, and I was wowed. This year, I paid my way without a second thought. To say the least, it didn’t disappoint. Many have said that Jyl Pattee and Rachel Herrscher “made lightening strike twice.” The picture (above and thanks to Paul, Sandy’s husband) was taken while I was on the Alpine Slide at Park City Mountain Resort. Okay, what was this guy doing? I was freaking out that he was so close.

Evo, for me, is about learning, feeling inspired, seeing old friends and making new ones. I was lucky enough to meet Jennifer, (above) from Piggies & Paws, last year. She is one of the most incredible women with such a great heart that I have ever met. This year I made so many new friends. I love this group (below) with SandyAggie, and Maria. All are hugely talented food and entertaining bloggers. I am honored to know them in person, and I have a feeling we will be lifetime friends. Thanks to Maria for sharing her photo with me.

And while this wasn’t a food conference, there were two more amazing food workshops. We learned photography tips from Helene from Tartlette, one of my most favorite blogs (see below). She is so nice, humble and genuine.

Our lunch with Helen and the Chefs of the The Canyons was held at Lookout Cabin, a picturesque setting overlooking the mountains.

Just a look at our view from our table (below).

Our meal was scrumptous as well, and we learned how to make all of the fabulous recipes from the chefs. This shrimp dish was just one of the mouth-watering appetizers we learned to make at home.

Day two, I went to the other food workshop which was held at the Waldorf Astoria resort sponsored by Bushs Beans with Todd and Diane from White on Rice Couple. I was lucky to meet this dynamic duo last year, and words can’t describe their talent, generosity and gift of teaching. Here’s Todd in action.

We learned more about food styling from Diane, and then we each got to practice our styling. I couldn’t get over Jennifer, from Baby Making Mama, with her beautiful baby on her back while shooting away with her camera on the ground. Now that was inspiring!

She was a delight to photograph (even though I was supposed to be food styling).

I must admit that one of the scary parts of the trip is when we took a gondola ride up to another mountain to the closing party sponsored by Together Counts. It got really windy, and while in mid air, the gondola stopped for what seemed like an eternity. It was frightening to say the least. When we got to the top, we suggested maybe taking the edge off. So we did. I had so much fun with Annalise, Kelly and Lisa, three of the most talented and genuine people I have ever met. Extra thanks to Kelly (second to the left) for her incredible hospitality. We met at the conference last year, and this was the second time I have seen her this year.

So what else can I say about EVO? I learned so much at this conference about social media, business, entrepreneurs, women, friendship, community and more. I have never met so many creative and passionate people in one place. There are so many others I want to mention who I don’t have photos of but Jen, Gena, Jenn, Alisa, Paul, Cameron, Marla, Diana, Jamielyn, Missy, Evan, Melissa, Heidi, Helen and Dara are just a few. I just feel lucky to have had this experience. It brings a smile to my face. Just look at it with Aggie (below) and Maria (bottom).

3 Ingredient Simple Peach Sorbet

My kids are infatuated with sorbet and ice cream, especially in the summertime. Since we had some awesome Chilton County peaches from Durbin Farms, I put them to great use in this 3 ingredient recipe for Simple Peach Sorbet from the Southern Living Classic Dessert Cookbook. It’s too easy and tastes fabulous. You can even make this year round using 1 (16-ounce) package of frozen sliced peaches.

Pepper Place Farmers Market This Saturday

Come see me tomorrow, Saturday, at the Pepper Place Farmers Market in downtown Birmingham. I will be there selling my book “400 Best Sandwich Recipes” with Bob Carlton of the Birmingham News as he showcases his new “Soon-to-be-Famous Pimiento Cheese”. We will be there from 7 to noon. Stop by and say hello, and try a Pimiento Cheese Sandwich on Big Sky Bread. Have a super weekend!

Only 1 of my cookbooks is currently available on Amazon this week, so come get a signed copy in person.

Any Occasion Chocolate Cupcakes

This is not one of my typical “lightened-up” recipes, but I had to share these Any Occasion Chocolate Cupcakes with you. My daughter, Leigh, made this recipe for me the night I arrived home from being in Italy for a week. I was so excited to come home to my family and true comfort food. These are so spectacular. You don’t even need to make homemade icing. I wanted to post the recipe for Father’s Day, but I was traveling again this past week. I realized that this recipe is perfect for so many occasions: Father’s Day, birthdays, parties, showers or just because. I thought they would be a great way to start off the week so enjoy.

Top 10 Ways to Find Balance in Your Life

“Life is like riding a bicycle. To keep your balance you must keep moving.” – Albert Einstein

 

This past year has been a whirlwind for me working on a 400 recipe cookbook (and now promoting it), 3 very, very busy kids, the decline of my parents’ health and more. I have been so filled with multitasking that I spend the majority of the time not living in the “now”, but thinking (or worrying) about what is to come next. Lately, I have been thinking a lot about balance. How do you achieve it? How do you find that happy medium when you’re living in a very stressful time? I thought writing this post might help me get closer to the answers and, maybe, assist some others at the same time.

Ways to find Balance

1. Learn to say no-I say yes a lot, but have learned in business as well as with my kids, I need to learn to say “no” more often.

2. Focus on key tasks-I find myself having more distractions than ever with email, social media, my blog and large projects. I have learned that focusing on key tasks daily simplifies things for me.

3. Be positive-We’ve all have heard it time and time again: “Attitude is everything”. My yoga instructor once said to look at your day as you would look forward to a vacation. It’s all in our control to keep positive and to have a good attitude even in rough times.

4. Take care of your body-Try to eat healthy, drink a lot of water, and exercise regularly to achieve and enhance balance.

5. Get enough sleep-I find being sleep deprived is my worst enemy in feeling balanced. Getting more sleep helps me be better at everything in my life and in a better mood.

6. Find and make more “me” time-(I need to do this more without a doubt.) Whether it’s reading a book, getting a facial or massage or taking a nap, taking time for yourself is a key to finding balance.

7. Meditation-Studies show that meditating can help with stress, help you concentrate more and help you achieve balance in your life.

6. Laugh more-Laughing is a huge stress reliever and a great way to achieve balance when times are tough.

7. Go for a run-Running keeps me grounded, helps me relieve stress and helps me be more creative. A good run always makes me feel better.

8. Take up yoga-Yoga has been one of the top saving graces for me. It clears the mind, helps with concentration and works on the body and mind at the same time.

9. Hang out with friends-Whether it’s a lunch with friends or dinner out, stepping out of your everyday busy routine pays off in spades.

10. Vacation-I need more of these (and not to work on vacation), but a vacation is one of the best ways to get centered and recharge.