I’ve been sorting through my notes and photographs from this summer’s BlogHer ’12 in Seattle and am newly inspired by the entire experience. Food bloggers, I was surprised to learn, are kind and generous with their knowledge. Here are some of the highlights, both personal and professional, with links to many people I met so you can go discover yourself how wonderful they are:

  • That gorgeous, inspiring, tear-jerker of an opening keynote from Todd Porter & Diani Cu of Whiteonricecouple.com on voice and story. They underscored the idea that we each have a unique story; believe in it. Someone will listen.
  • A tremendously informative traffic building session, where Jeanette Chen, Kalyn Denny, Neysa King, and Stephanie Stiavetti gave us a social networking reality check and well as tips and tricks on using Pinterest and bit.ly, establishing a Facebook strategy, and tweeting effectively.
  • Professional photography and video tips from pros Alice Currah, Aran Goyoaga, Michael Natkin, Catherine McCord, and Michael Ervin.
  • A behind-the-scenes glimpse at turning blogging into freelance writing gigs from Jess Thomson, Lara Ferroni, Melissa Lanz, and Tara Austin Weaver.
  • The suprememely galvanizing and amazingly impressive eco-chef and activist Bryant Terry, answering questions about how great food, good health, and social justice all intersect.
  • A very sweet Recipe Boy taking it all in and asking questions, representing a new generation of bloggers.
  • Chef Peter Berley, who told me how to transform my rampant garden nasturtiums into spicy compound butter.
  • The delicious tropical smoothies from 8th Continent Soymilk.
  • New friends, especially cookbook editor Diane Sepanski.
  • Old friends, too; unbelievably I sat down at lunch the first day and ran into Kelly O’Malley, a co-worker from pre-internet days who now runs a successful PR firm.
  • Discovering that food bloggers, both established and newbies, are a warm and wonderful group of people.
  • Having the opportunity to meet and have conversations with many of the conference sponsors, especially the teams from Bob’s Red Mill, Lundberg Family Farms, AllrecipesShutterfly, Supervalu, Dole, and Mann’s.
  • And then, because I was so exhausted after a day like that, the wonderful surprise “Welcome to Seattle” gift bag from Starbucks in my room Friday night: a travel survival kit complete with  a travel aspirin, BreathSavers, Emergen-C,  Via Italian Roast instant brew, packet of Via instant iced coffee, a can of their new strawberry lemonade Refreshers, and a Kind bar. Perfect.

Of course, the convention food was not typical convention food; it was plentiful and sublime, beginning with bagel trees, and fruit trays heaped with melon and pineapple for breakfast followed by all-day sponsor food, the most popular of which were the Chobani yogurt and topping bar and Progresso’s endless offerings of hot treats featuring their new Recipe Starters. Yum.

Then the hotel chef Gavin Stephenson pulled out all the stops for the evening reception. Check out these delicious bites:

Chunks of dry-smoked salmon infused with lemon aioli.

Tiny bites of carbonated cherry tomatoes.

And to finish off a perfect day, chocolate-covered strawberries.

Thank you a million times over to all of the organizers and sponsors who put together such a wonderful conference. I’m looking forward to seeing you all next year!