Hot Mess Week + Chicago Fun for Tastemaker Conference

Well, my friends, it’s been a pretty hot mess of a week — both kids got stomach problems on Tuesday night and…yeah.

It was tough for everyone. So much laundry. I was so incredibly thankful for our home washing machines this week.

The kids have been home the rest of the week to date and our part time nanny has also been sick all week. I made it to the 6 o’clock yoga today and it helped me center myself so that’s it.

Luckily, Matt and I didn’t get sick ourselves — I didn’t feel great on Wednesday, but it’s hard to tell if I put up with it, too, or just felt like garbage from being up late at night doing laundry made …

We hope everyone recovers this weekend and that’s the last! Half the school is on the same thing – it’s spread like wildfire.

Anyway, before everyone started throwing up everywhere, I went for a run Monday morning — my first run in well over a week.

The last time I ran before that was a 9 mile run in preparation for the half marathon I was training for, but the day after that long run I injured my hip/lower back while running a thrashing Wes at an odd angle.

My boyfriend and I ran a little over 4 miles on Monday and my hips and lower back felt good during the run – they didn’t bother me at all – but afterwards that area felt quite sore which made me nervous, considering we didn’t run that far (compared to 13.1 miles).

And then since Monday I haven’t been able to get going with the whole illness situation in our house. The half marathon is only a week away at this point and I’m still not sure what to do.

I think at this point it’s unlikely I’ll run it – I feel like I could probably pull it off and finish well, but after that I’m nervous about my hips/lower back really fighting the strain again would rebel.

It doesn’t feel worth taking the risk of injuring myself again – my weekly fitness routine is a big part of my mental health, plus I want to be able to lift Wes without worrying about changing anything . So yes. We will see.

It’s really disappointing but I’m thankful my body is feeling pretty good right now and I’d much rather continue doing my yoga classes I love and my fun shorter runs with friends than pushing myself for a race and taking risks to enter into injury again.

Anyway! In much funnier news, I was on a trip last week: I was at the Tastemaker Conference in Chicago!

The Tastemaker Conference is a food blogger-specific conference that’s been going on since… 2017 or 2018 I think? This was my first year participating!

It was fun to be back at a conference for the first time in many, many years. I was incredibly exhausted by the end of the days from all the non-stop stimulation and entertainment, but it was fun seeing some old acquaintances and meeting and networking with some new friends.

(Pictured below with new girlfriend Nancylynn at one of the event’s happy hours!)

I didn’t take many pictures at the actual conference because I was busy chatting and recording everything, but I managed to take pictures of my lunch every day!

Since I didn’t have close friends attending the conference, for breakfast and lunch while I was there, I just walked up to any table and asked if I could join them. Luckily, a lot of people came to the conference alone and did the same thing, so I didn’t find it weird!

On the first day we had a delicious Asian lunch – rice, salmon, tofu and vegetables.

Lunchtime friends on day one were LaKita, Hannah and Laura. It was really fun chatting with them!

The second day had a Mediterranean style lunch which was also delicious – orzo, salad, chicken, olives, veggies and pita with different sauce options.

However, one of the big highlights of the conference was the cooking class, which I attended on the last day before heading to the airport! This was part of Tastemaker’s optional ‘excursions’, which are offered in addition to the conference for an additional fee.

I’m on the Tastemaker Advisory Board and while I paid my expenses for the regular conference fee and accommodation/travel and such, they invited us on the board to join the excursions (this cooking class + a dinner the night before) free of charge as a thank you. I gladly accepted the offer!

We made 3 recipes during the cooking class held at a cool cooking school called The Chopping Block: Cheddar Black Bean Empanadas, Shrimp Chorizo ​​Paella, and Grilled Roasted Pork Tenderloin with Rice.

It was all delicious and fun to work with and chat with my small group!

The empanadas were the most fun and I was surprised at how easy they were to make as I had never attempted to make them at home before!

We all worked together to slice the puff pastry…

To brush the egg on the outer rim (so it sticks together after filling):

To fill them with the black bean mix (which consisted of black beans, cilantro, peppers, garlic, cheddar, scallions, and lime juice):

To shape them into crescents and then make them look pretty by pressing the pliers of a fork on the edges to create a pattern:

And then brush with egg again.

The last step was baking! You turned out beautiful, didn’t you?

The paella was beautiful too! I didn’t help that much on this one, but I still have to admire it:

Ready to feast!

However, one of the biggest highlights of the cooking class besides the food was chatting with fellow blogger Kate!

We met at the conference the day before when she said hello and told me that she has been my blog reader for 10 years. So thanks for reading so long, Kate! And I loved hanging out with you while we cooked. 🙂

It was fun to completely mess up my usual routine and spend some time with other bloggers to learn and network. (I’m actually co-hosting a small weekend retreat with Tastemaker in May – looking forward to it too!)

I did miss my little family though – it was really nice to be with them again on Saturday night. <3

Have a nice weekend my friends and see you next week!

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