Arkansas Women Bloggers Unplugged…. what can I say? The weekend before last was filled with highlights from attending AWBU at Ferncliff Camp in Little Rock, Arkansas. I really feel this is a conference that I’ll attend every single year, because it was a wonderful experience getting to know other Arkansas bloggers/writers, many of whom are in my local area. I had the pleasure of riding home with Heidi and Sarea from The Busy Nothings. We created a vlog, which will probably get you giggling when you watch.
First of all, the location was key to a relaxing atmosphere. Set in a camp location at Ferncliff Camp, there were lakes, cabins, trails, and all kinds of wildlife meandering about. While we got a lot of walking in, the walks were enjoyable, especially a shady shortcut we found through the woods. One of my favorite things about AWBU was the retreat style cabins that quite a few bloggers chose to stay in. It was like going back to summer camp, and we’d stay up at night chatting away.
Sessions and Attendees/Speakers
There were many authors and writers at this conference, including one of my favorite authors, Tricia Goyer. She gave a session on being a mom and a writer, and I walked away with so many grains of wisdom to take home with me. The Author Roundtable was another session that I really enjoyed, mainly because they laid it all out on the line, what really happens behind the scenes when embarking on the journey of writing and publishing a book. Of course, we also enjoyed P. Allen Smith speaking and signing books during the Opening Kick-Off. And who doesn’t love Sophie Hudson, aka Boomama, who gave a very inspiring and uplifting Keynote.
It was wonderful to meet other local bloggers from Arkansas and surrounding states. This conference was truly about coming together and connecting in person, off the screen, in real life. When we lived in Missouri, I longed for interaction with other bloggers, but there just were not that many around, that I knew of anyway. Moving to Arkansas has opened up a whole new community of bloggers and writers and artists, and I’m loving this group of women (and a few guys). It’s great to connect with others who really “get it.”
The Food and Foodie Friday
Who doesn’t love food? The food at AWBU was de-lish! From Great Day Eggs to Petit Jean Meats to Yarnell’s Ice Cream, good eats were in abundance. Foodie Friday really kicked it all off with sessions geared toward foodies. I especially enjoyed a session from Dr. Meenakshi Budhraja, M.D. (aka, @GastroMom), You Are What You Eat. With a family history of gastro-intestinal disease, this was a session I especially enjoyed, as it was filled with knowledge and advice surrounding the foods that we eat. Oh, and another favorite session? Liz Bray talked about Searching for Perfection, and she made her delicious Chipotle & Chili Quinoa Pilaf. Oh my goodness, it was delicious. I’ll be making it for my family very soon. We ended Foodie Friday with The Big Event Challenge, where we were divided up into teams to create appetizers that would be judged in a contest. I enjoyed styling this cucumber salad appetizer. There were many delicious appetizers created from this challenge; my friend Sarea won 2nd place with Team 7!
Our last night was spent at a cookout, as well, that included burgers and a hot dog stand. They even brought in a cupcake truck with treats like this Salted Caramel Cupcake. Yum! I purposely chose to sit at a table out by the lake and was surrounded by good friends. Though we did get a bit eaten up by mosquitoes, that didn’t stop us from laughing the night away.
The Handmade Marketplace opened up on the last night for about an hour, and we were able to browse around to our hearts’ content. Authors were also there, including Tricia Goyer, who I stopped and talked to for just a little bit. After that chat with her, I’m feeling more inspired than ever to start my book.
The Paddleboat Incident
Mischief…. that’s what Sarea and I were up to when we snuck a paddleboat off the dock and out into the lake for a nice, leisurely ride.
(Photo taken by Sarea, from The Busy Nothings)
I’d kept saying, “I’d so love to take a paddleboat ride.” Sarea obliged and “highly encouraged” me to get in. Off we went, laughing the entire way. Now that’s creating a memory.
If you haven’t been to AWBU yet, I highly encourage you to consider going next year. I’ll be there for sure! Even if you don’t live in Arkansas, you can still come. The conference is smaller and more intimate, making it easier to connect. Plus, you just never know what kind of mischief you’ll get into…. just sayin’.