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Posted on Aug 21, 2012 in Dear Diary | 21 comments

HLS 2012: Part 2

Hoo boy, I tell you, I am not having an easy time readjusting from the weekend. It took me not one, not two, but three separate tries to put my shirt on correctly this morning (first time: backwards, second time: arm through neckhole, in case you were wondering). So I guess that means I should jump right into Part 2 of my weekend recap, huh?

Picking up right where we left off, it’s now an HLS tradition to officially kick things off with a cocktail party Friday night. Because we knew that there were only going to be light appetizers at the party, the roomies (Anne, Theodora, Ashley, plus Tina) and I wanted to make sure we got some actual sustenance beforehand. We were a little crunched for time because the photowalk took longer than planned (whoops), so we decided just to get our nom on at the hotel restaurant: Zephyr on the Charles.

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The menu was very tantalizing, and we were given a 10% discount because of HLS, so it ended up being a great choice! Before we could get into ordering, however, we had to take advantage of the deliciously even lighting that our patio seating allowed us. Vanity photoshoot? Yes please.

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I love dining with other bloggers. Makes me feel so much less self-conscious about my food paparazzi ways.

As expected with people who have a lot of the same interests food-wise, all of us ended up ordering one of two things. I got the lobster cobb salad (as did Anne and Tina), and Theodora and Ashley (who were set to run 15 miles in the morning as part of their marathon training) got a rigatoni dish with chicken and vegetables.

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But first, the bread! We housed the pretzel roll. It. Was. Awesome.

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Aaaaaalmost as awesome as my lobster cobb salad. With huge chunks of lobster, bacon, egg, tomatoes, super ripe avocado, and a heaping amount of GOAT CHEESE, it was seriously amazing. It came with a lemon-rosemary vinaigrette on the side. Nom-tastic, for reals.

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After we wrapped up dinner, it was time for the cocktail party! The fabulous Elizabeth was the planner of this event. It was held in a little tented area off of one of the meeting rooms, and it looked fantastic.

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There were a few little apps and whatnot: a cheese plate, a veggie plate, and a dessert table.

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I was so glad that we got a real meal beforehand, but I was also glad that I saved room for dessert! I tried one of each type of mini-whoopie pie: chocolate, red velvet, and lemon poppyseed. The lemon was my favorite — there’s just something about that flavor combination I really love. It’s my favorite kind of muffin, too!

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The most fun part of the cocktail party (last year’s too!) is the photobooth that we have set up. What can I say? You have to know that getting a bunch of women together who already have a penchant for posting photos of themselves on the internet is going to result in some serious goobering-up in front of the photobooth cam. Check out some of these beauties:


From Elizabeth’s blog

We didn’t end up staying until the very end since we were so tired (not that I really had an excuse since *I* wasn’t set to run 15 miles in the morning, but still). But before I officially went up to hit the hay, Mal came to pick Tina up since she wasn’t attending the conference the next day and…

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I got to meet Murphy!

He was such an adorable little munchkin. He has SO much personality! It made me wish that I had Daxter with me so he and Murphy could instantly become bestest best friends. Oh well, maybe next time. 😉

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I hightailed it back to the room after that to put up my feet (which were more sore than I like to admit) and start mentally preparing myself for the day to come… which included my photography presentation! Ahhh!

Saturday: We had a breakfast which was sponsored by Wild Harvest and was actually AWESOME. Instead of cereal, oatmeal, and fruit, which I was expecting based on last year, they had a full-service breakfast which featured the winning recipe of the contest they held prior to the conference. I was too nervous for my presentation so I forgot to bring my camera down, but rest assured it was awesome.

After breakfast, most people headed off to the CrossFit session (which, as I mentioned, I had to unfortunately miss out on), while I went and prepped for my presentation. Before I knew it, 10:45 had rolled around and I was off!


Picture from Courtney

I actually think my presentation ended up going really well. It FLEW by, of course, and I couldn’t believe it when I looked at the clock on my computer and had already been talking for 25 minutes, but it also went smoothly. People had a lot of questions, as expected, so I was glad I left enough time for them to be asked. If you’re interested, here is a link to the slides from my presentation.

If there’s enough interest, I’d also be happy to go through a post (or a series of posts) on what I talked about – photography basics and how to up the ante in terms of your blog’s photos. Just let me know!

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As mentioned, my session flew by (as did the following one I attended, which was a panel on working with brands that featured my roomies, hosted by Lauren of Say What You Need to Say. Then, before I knew it, it was time for lunch! I was RAVENOUS (must have been all that nervous energy), so again I am glad to say that the hotel did not disappoint food-wise.

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They had a make-your-own salad that you could top with goat cheese, almonds, and dried blueberries, a delicious tomato and avocado salad, a vegan lentil chili (which was spicy and delicious – I had seconds!), and this roasted chicken which was actually fantastic. I always expect conference chicken to be dry and flavorless, and this was anything but. They also had a vegetable soup which was good, albeit a little salty.

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The one part of lunch I did not particularly enjoy was the dessert. They served us yogurt parfaits at breakfast, so I was pretty much expecting this to be more of the same. When I dug in expecting yogurt, however, I was met with a flavor that was more like cottage cheese or ricotta. Now, I normally LOVE cottage cheese (and ricotta, frankly!), and most of my tablemates seemed to really enjoy the dish. I just couldn’t get over the texture though (maybe because I had gone in expecting yogurt?) and ended up just picking the fruit and glazed walnuts off the top. Oh well, at least it photographed beautifully!

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The rest of the day was spent going in and out of additional sessions, snacking on Driscoll’s berries, and bumming around with the roomies. We were all really glad that our presentations had been back-to-back and before lunch so we could enjoy the rest of the day together. Before we knew it, Meghann, Julie, and Heather were going through the closing remarks!

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Eventually we made our way down to Meghann’s room where a bunch of the girls were meeting before heading out to a Chobani dinner (like the one I got to attend back in May).


Photo from Theodora

Meghann was already deep in post-conference relief mode, hehe:

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Since I wouldn’t be attending the dinner, I ventured out with Chase and Michelle to take in just a little bit more of Boston while I still could. We grabbed the hotel shuttle out to Harvard Square and ended up having dinner at a cute little Irish pub called Tommy Doyle’s.

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I got a Magic Hat beer and decided to keep my lobster craving satisfied for the second night in a row:

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Talk about a great value! For $12 I got TWO lobster rolls stuffed to the brim with meaty goodness. I ended up eating one whole roll and then just picking the lobster out of the other. Mm-mmm.

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I was also pleasantly surprised to see a Bon Chon Chicken joint right in the middle of everything. You guys know how I feel about the deliciousness that is Bon Chon. Harvardians (is that a thing?), if you haven’t tried their magical crack chicken yet, go! Quickly!

Aaaaaand, that about wraps it up! I caught a super early flight back to DC Sunday morning with Chase, realized quickly that I had also caught a cold, but didn’t really care. I have another great HLS weekend under my belt, and can’t wait to see what next year has in store!

21 Comments

  1. Wow I didn’t know you had to present at the summit. You’re a natural on stage so I know you did wonderfully! This looks so fun! Can I come to the next one with you? Hahha

  2. This is a great recap and all, but I MUST know where you got your dress! It’s gorgeous and you look fabulous in it!

    • I got it from DorothyPerkins.com. Unfortunately I think the dress itself has been discontinued, but last time I checked there was a tee and a tunic with the same pattern. They also have tons of dresses with the same silhouette. I love that site!

      • As always …. U look smashing Gretchen!

        Splendid that everyone had a great time!!

  3. I’m a little jealous that you got to meet Murphy! Congrats on your presentation!

  4. I can’t tell you HOW interested I am in some photography posts! I’m set to get my first DSLR for Christmas (I have the Santa hook up, so I’m sure this is happening), and I have not a clue what I’m doing! Luckily, my sister-in-law is a professional photographer, so I have a built-in resource, but I’d LOVE some tips from you as well, as you are a blogger and that is primarily what I’ll be using my camera for.

  5. $12 for two lobstah rolls??? Damn.

  6. loved your recap!
    and thanks so much for linking to your ppt!
    I would be so happy if you would post more tips here, really, bc you are taking such great pictures and I feel you really know what you are doing 🙂

  7. I just want to keep reliving it. It WAS such a good time! (says the serial agreer!)

  8. I wish I could have gone this weekend, if only to hang out and eat lobster rolls. Also, Harvardians (hilar. We usually just call them Ma$$holes here in RI) made me think of Harvarti cheese. I want.

  9. Your presentation was fabulous. Thank you so much for getting me on my way to actually being about to use my DSLR. For the first time since getting it in December, I’m actually looking forward to playing with it!

  10. Sounds like fun! I do have to say though, I keep seeing “Boston” written on everything associated with HLS, and bloggers talking about eating in Boston, exploring Boston, etc.–but they’re in Cambridge! Cambridge is great and the Harvard Square area is interesting, but it’s not Boston, which as I’m sure you know is across the Charles River.

    • Good point! You’re right, I’m being far too general. It’s like in the DC area, when I talk about “living in DC” but I really live in Northern Virginia. When we walked over the river to Fenway, that was actual Boston, right? This way I can say I’ve been to both? 🙂

      • Ha ha, yes, your walk across the river “counts.” I wasn’t trying to be nitpicky,I was just surprised to see that a lot of bloggers didn’t really enter Boston much, if at all, and yet everybody’s posting about their trips to “Boston.” You’re right about Fenway; it’s a classic Boston destination. Still, you actually barely got into Boston itself; Boston University is on the western edge of Boston. If you make it back, you should see some more of the city itself if you can find the time. It really is a beautiful place.

  11. So glad you got a LOBSTA roll- 2 even! Those are the best. Neither Greg nor his dad eat lobster (his dad lives in Boston and he’s from there!).. wtf?!
    Looks like a blast. Hope you are recovering well!
    xoxo

    OH! Did you go to Mike’s Pastry at all? Did I miss that?

  12. Hey Gretchen, I recently found your blog (through lots of people’s Reach the Beach recaps!) just wanted to say that I really liked your personal and honest posts about weight loss that you did recently. I feel like I hit the point recently where I realised I am really unhappy with my weight, and your post came on exactly the day I needed it.

    I would love to read your photography tips, your pictures are beautiful, as were the ones of Anne’s Bridal shower!

  13. I loved your presentation and loved having dinner with you even more! Your pictures from Saturday night came out so great!!

  14. So glad someone else was there to share my excitement of seeing Murphy!! 🙂

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