And it doesn't even include the ladies who met up with us at the conference, but were unable to go to dinner! We had ladies from Philly, Boston, NY, NJ, Delaware, MD/DC and Atlanta. If some of the ladies in the collage below (top row, right corner) look very familiar, they should be - While QuietSpirit and I live here, we had three other bloggers come for the fun. Cluizel, Sunsail and Naturally Sophia were able to join us.
I also had my first blogger-sighting! A lady came up to me and said, I know you, but I don't know you - know you. She confessed that she reads many of our blogs, but was too shy to actually leave any comments or to send me an email to let me know she'd like to join us. But she decided that she'd go to the conference and hope to see us. Well, after fussing at her for taking the chance of possibly not getting in on the fun, we hijacked her to the restaurant as if we'd known her for years! Needless to say, when she called her husband to let him know why she was going to be a little late getting home, he told her to be careful - you don't really know these people. We also picked up another lady at the conference after telling her what our plans were. I felt like the Pied Piper.
This year's location for the conference was much better, in my opinion. It was bright and air conditioned, which was very welcomed since the temperature was in the 80's. It was also much roomier and folks weren't squeezing by each other to get to the various booths and tables. Some thought there were fewer vendors, but that could be because there was much more room to spread out. Since the location is a school, each demonstration or class had its own classroom and the presenters weren't interrupted by folks passing through on their way to another part of the conference. They also had use of the courtyard outside the school so folks could step out and get some fresh air. That's where they put the food vendors, who had a separate covered area with tables. There was music and dancing and one station was actually retwisting and styling clients' locks. Also, Sister Nandi was there with her Wrap-a-Loc tools. I was glad to have a chance to actually see them and how they work, but I'm not sure yet whether I'll get them. Maybe next year.
The restaurant turned out to be very nice. We were worried that with such a large group, it'd take all night to get our orders, but that wasn't the case. Plates were coming out left and right within minutes of ordering. They had "large plates," which were regular sized entree portions, but they also had "small plates," so I finally had the opportunity to have "tapas." In addition to the Talapia Ceviche and Crying Bacalao which I officially ordered, I also had some Oxymoron and Chicken Mofongo - all were very tasty. For the price though, the portions could have been a little bigger. I saw quite a few forks digging in to plates across the table and some waited until another had ordered something before ordering it too. And while I not a big drinker, I had the Ice Pearl, which was a blend of champagne and pear nectar. For me, dessert was Lavender Cheesecake. I guess I should have thought like Brunsli and taken some pictures - the presentations were beautiful and they must have ten different platters for each of the unique dish concoctions.
Our friends from Boston told us about their efforts to have a conference up there, so we're definitely going to try to support them. Road trip!
Hopefully, these fun pictures will inspire you all to try to get here for the next conference. Although, I don't know what restaurant is going to be able to accommodate us if we get any bigger....