Mixed Conference 2015

On October 2nd, my boots and I went to the Mixed Conference  at The Woodlands Resort & Conference Center .

Rachel's Boots at The Mixed Conference

I love when conferences are within driving distance! I can bring multiple pair of boots! 🙂

This was my first Mixed Conference, and I was excited to finally meet Paula and Susan in person, get to hang out with local friends, and mix it up (see what I did there?) with the fabulous conference sponsors, because Food Conferences have yummy sponsors, y’all!  Get ready, y’all there was so much information shared and so much food and fun, I could probably make this into a 3-parter, but I probably won’t… maybe….

One of the conference sponsors, Imperial Sugar,  hosted a pre-conference Sugar Scrub making area, and I made all THREE sugar scrubs! Lemon Rosemary, Mint Chocolate, and Dreamsicle. Princess has claimed the Lemon Rosemary as hers, and wants to make sugar scrubs for Christmas gifts this year; so act surprised, y’all 🙂

click on the video to watch


Love making @imperial_sugar sugar scrubs! Great smelling and fun start to #mixedcon @mixedcon @heb #hebMixedConf

A video posted by Rachel Matthews (@sthrnfairytale) on

The first session was led by ChezUs   on How to Shoot Killer Food Videos I learned SO much and they’ve about 98% convinced me that I absolutely must own a selfie stick because it’s such a great tool for making videos with your iphone!

Here are a few takeaways from that session:

  • KISS (keep it simple stupid)
  • Don’t aim for perfection
  • Don’t wear black or dark colors when you’re on camera
  • Shoot separately and learn to edit:  Shoot People.  Shoot Things.  Combine in Editing
  • Tell the whole story.  You don’t have to be in the kitchen
  • Pay attention to angles and backgrounds.
  • Fake action shots can help immensely during editing


I learned so much from them, y’all! I could go on and on and on!

Imperial Sugar hosted a chocolate tempering demonstration class, and it was phenomenal. I can’t wait to try my hand at making some fun decorations for cakes, cupcakes, and just because pretty & delicious!!!

click on the video to watch


Some takeaways from that scrumptious session:

  • use GOOD real chocolate
  • Never whisk chocolate – that adds air and makes the chocolate thicker
  • Tempered chocolate will set in a minute or two at room temperature
  • For dark chocolate you should never go over 90°F  Milk or white chocolate you should never go over 88°F
  • Water will thicken chocolate; use cocoa butter to thin it, if necessary

Kim from Storyteller Communications led a session on Brands and Bloggers, and what brands WANT from bloggers.  It was enlightening.  She gave tips on approaching brands, creating relationships with them, and media kits.  She was honest, engaging, and blunt.

how to ensure a long-term relationship with brands


Susan, from Ahalogy, led a session about Pinterest that talked about being a user and leveraging it as a publisher

a few nuggets of wisdom

  • Strike a balance between inspirational and achievable
  • Make every recipe irresistible to share
  • Pinterest is 80% mobile!!!! <<blew my mind
  • Stay ahead of the food trends!  If the magazines in the grocery store are ahead of you recipe/holiday/season-wise, then you’re behind.

Meredith led a brilliant session on DIY photography backdrops that was awesome, and incredibly informative.  Y’all, these are so much easier to make than I ever would have thought!  Thank you, Meredith!!!!!!

meredith teaching how to make your own photography backdrops

A few tips

  • Pine planks, like the ones used for wainscoting, are roughly $9 for 12 boards: she uses 8 boards glued together with gorilla glue
  • You can use nails and gravel to add dimension and texture to your boards
  • 220 grit sandpaper will add texture to stains
  • You can paint both sides of the board for double duty backdrops!
  • Baby Wipes will clean the food off 

The final session was with the incredible Helene DuJardin of Tartelette and Tami Hardeman-Boutte of Running with Tweezers.  I can’t tell y’all how much I enjoyed watching the two of them speak about what they love to do.  They’re both extremely talented, funny, and passionate about food styling and food photography, which made this session one of my favorites.

photography workshop

They walked us through their processes, their thoughts, and Tami showed us how she styles a sandwich, which everyone was so excited about, because sandwiches are hard to photograph, y’all. 

Light.  It’s not how much you have, it’s how you use it – Helene DuJardin

  • Never stop playing and learning (amen)
  • Food Styling and the composition of your photograph begins when you choose the recipe
  • Think differently about garnishes, have fun with them
  • Beautiful, quality ingredients will automatically make your food look better
  • “You’re selling the food – not the props” – HDJ

Here are a couple of posts that Tami has written on Food Styling difficult foods

There’s so much more, y’all!  Conferences aren’t all about the sessions – sure, that’s a big part, but it’s about the people, the relationships….

Picture with KiKi and Kelley from Mixed Conference

Hanging in the Imperial Sugar area with my girls Kirsten and Kelley




When your stomach hurts from laughing so hard. #goodtimes Grace and joy in every moment. #mixedcon

A photo posted by Rachel Matthews (@sthrnfairytale) on

I haven’t even talked about the food, y’all.  SO MUCH FOOD!

mixed conference food

I had such a wonderful time at Mixed Conference, and I learned so much, y’all!  I hope to be putting my new knowledge, tips, and tricks to use behind the scenes, and on the blog.

A huge thank you to all of the wonderful Mixed Conference sponsors, especially HEB, who sponsored my Conference experience and allowed me to give away one of the FABULOUS HEB swag bags that all of the attendees received. It was chock full of HEB goodness, and we’re definitely enjoying the spice rubs, the Nutella, the almond cookies, and those little Cafeccinos!!!

mocha cafeccino from HEB

I attended the Mixed Conference on behalf of HEB as a sponsored ambassador, as part of that, they took care of my conference ticket and hotel accommodations.  I have also been compensated for my time, but the opinions expressed at the conference and here on the blog are completely my own, and not influenced by my relationship with HEB.




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