My GEMomsperience Experience

I’ll ask you to forgive me but I’m about to tell this story out of sequence.  See, my trip to Louisville started with a whole separate adventure involving a bloggy friend, cucumber spread, and rain.  But in the interest of being somewhat timely, I need to talk about the second part of the trip first.

Actually, I need to preface all of this by saying that when it comes to winning things, my track record sucks.  Giveaways, raffle tickets, lottery scratch offs….I never win.  But like the Maryland Lottery once said, you gotta play to win.  So from time to time I take a chance and hope that Lady Luck smiles upon me.

Most recently this took the form of me entering a contest on the LoveFeast Table blog.   {Tangent}  Do you know the LoveFeast ladies?  Maybe not in real life, but online?  You should.  Kristin and Chris Ann personify what it means to let your passions guide your life and being open to going where that journey takes you.  Take a moment and click on the link over in that there sidebar under B’more Bloggers.  {End Tangent} Anyhow, Love Feast had been invited to participate in GEMomsperience and the folks at GE were letting them bring one of their readers along.  So despite not really understanding what GEMomsperience was, I entered the competition to be their guest at the event.  And guess what?  I freaking won.

Color me giddy.

So what exactly was GEMomsperience?  Unlike that timeshare sales pitch you have to sit through in order to get the free vacation, this was not GE trying to give us a hard sell on their products.  Sure, we got to oooh and aahh over washers, dryers, refrigerators, and induction cook tops.  And maybe we even got to see for ourselves that the Advantium oven will go from zero to well done fillets in 13 minutes flat.  {Tangent}  You really should ask the Googley about Advantium.  It’s the oven equivalent of the swiss army knife…regular oven, convection oven, microwave, and proofing oven.  Unfreaking believable.  {End Tangent} But GE wanted to understand more about our relationship with appliances in real life.

What goes into our decision making when we buy appliances?  What functions are important to us?  What functions would we like to see?  {Tangent}  If a self cleaning microwave ever becomes a commercial reality, you can thank GEMomsperiece.  {End Tangent}.  How do we use the products in our own homes as opposed to how the designers and testers speculate that we will?

It was an opportunity to have a conversation.  To talk with, not to be talked to.

It was also an opportunity to cook with GE’s chefs in their kitchen center.  Chef Brian and Chef Joe made us all feel like pros as they walked us through preparing pan friend chicken breasts, red eye gravy, and micro greens salad.  I have started to stalk their blog waiting for that chicken recipe to go up.  I’m tempted to try and wing it from memory because the results were spectacular.  The red eye gravy recipe came home with me and is demanding that I make it promptly.  Maybe I’ll see if Lady Luck won’t look my way again so soon because BAH needs this dish.  {Tangent} Perhaps if I would have checked this post on the Chefs’ blog BEFORE I arrived in Louisville I might not have had that unfortunate cucumber spread experience. {End Tangent}

I can’t say enough about how well we were treated by GE.  Not just in the tangible things like travel and accommodations.  Yes, it’s nice to be treated like a VIP.  But it’s  nothing compared to the experience of having every person you encounter from the organization genuinely wanting to hear your opinion.  Talk about feeling important.  Big thanks to GE for bringing a diverse group of bloggers together and for giving us an amazing experience.

Now for the disclaimery stuff.  GE covered all of my travel expenses and hotel accommodations.  They provided transportation while in Louisville and basically made me feel like a rock star.  They did not once suggest that I write about my experience.  But I own GE appliances.  I use GE appliances.  So I can speak objectively about my real life experiences with their products. Such as….could someone at GE please tell me why detergent packs refuse to dissolve in my GE dishwasher?  That thing is a godsend to me but it really burns my biscuits to have to run it twice because there’s some kind of fail going on after I close the door.

Next to lastly, a side note to anyone who may at some point have the opportunity to be the guest of a company at an event.  Please do not go around asking for free stuff.  Besides the less than springlike weather during our visit, that was the thing that really gave me chills.  When you’re a guest at someone’s home, you wouldn’t ask them if you can have the silver.   Would you?

Lastly, the folks who made all this happen deserve to be personally thanked.  In a perfect world I would have used that 2.5 hour delay at the airport to write thank you notes to all these people.  But my world in imperfect.  So without further ado, thank you to:

Eddie Martin – Chief Marketing Officer


Ben Cecil – Merchandising Specialist

Susan Gregory – Product Manager, Global Products

Julie Muennich – Senior Marketing Merchandising Specialist

Shawn Stover – Product Manager, Built –in Cooking Products


Casie Banquer – Senior Marketing Merchandising Specialist

Rebecca LaRocque – Training Manager

Monogram Experience Center:

Chef Joe Castro

Chef Brian Logsdon

Entertaining made simple:

Wendy Sommers – Team Leader

Industrial Design:

Marc Hottenroth – Industrial Design Manager


John Nichols – Senior Marketing Merchandising Specialist

Paul Riley – Marketing Manager


Peter Pepe – Product General Manager, Clothes Care

Jennifer Schoenegge – Product Manager, Clothes Care

Raegen VanBogaert – Product Manager


Dawn Riedel – Brand Manager

And special sparkly jazz hands to Megan Robison and Nancy Wolff for all of their time and attention to make this a fantastic trip that I will never forget.

Big Summer Potluck

I’m not a gambler by nature. The risks I take are calculated, not reckless.  However, there are moments when I throw caution to the wind, say what the hell, and let the chips fall where they may.  These moments are few and far between, but they do happen.  My most recent spontaneous, caution thrown to the wind decision involved me, one untested cookie recipe, a set of Mapquest directions, six hours of driving, 39 food bloggers, several food professionals, and three deer.

The destination was called the Big Summer Potluck.  Organized by women who know food, blogging, and photography – Maggy Keet and Sharon Anderson of Three Many Cooks and Erika Pineda of Ivory Hut – this was a day to come together with other food bloggers to talk about the challenges we all face. It was an opportunity to build our food blogging community, to support and encourage one another, to learn more about our craft, and to eat some amazing food.

These ladies pulled out all the stops.  On the agenda:

Pam Anderson (food columnist, cookbook author, Three Many Cooks food blogger, and former executive editor of Cook’s Illustrated) shared her thoughts on recipe development and recipe writing, in addition to graciously hosting us at her home.

Abby Dodge (food writer and instructor, cookbook author, and contributing editor to Fine Cooking magazine) demoed a dessert from her upcoming Desserts 4 Today cookbook (brilliant concept y’all…a cookbook full of desserts that utilize four ingredients), and shared some of her tips and tricks (stabilize whipped cream by replacing half the heavy cream with marscapone…yum).

Melissa DeMayo (food stylist extraordinaire) shared her food styling expertise and tips (texture, height, ingredient shots), demoed building the picture perfect sandwich, and told us the best way to do {fill in the blank with your question of choice} is whatever results in the prettiest shot.

Erika Pineda (photojournalist, sports photographer, and Ivory Hut blogger) spoke about the Holy Trinity of photography (Aperture, Shutter Speed, and ISO), point and shoot vs. dslr, and processing.

We had a lively discussion about video content and media campaigns with Auritt Communications.

And then there was Alice.  Alice Currah of Savory Sweet Life and Everyday Alice.  Alice Currah who was named one of’s “Eight of The Very Best Food Bloggers” and Saveur’s food photography “Cover Contest” winner. Maybe you’ve heard of her?  She’s the bomb.  Alice spoke to us about the importance of being authentic in our craft, speaking (and blogging) from the heart and from what we know, carving our own niche out of the blogosphere while also supporting and encouraging and honoring other food bloggers.

I go on and on about The Universe this and The Universe that and it may sound trite but hear me out.  I was originally supposed to be in New York city for BlogHer this summer.  My plans changed and I didn’t have the opportunity to attend and to finally meet in person some of the people that I have grown to think of as part of my extended family.  And I was disappointed about that.  But The Universe more than made up for it by getting me to Big Summer Potluck.  BlogHer is mega big. It’s huge.  Which for my socially awkward self is completely overwhelming.  Big Summer Potluck was intimate.  It was warm and welcoming.  It was a conversation among old friends who may have just met each other that morning.  It was exactly where I needed to be.

Remember my post You Might Be A Food Blogger If… That’s how Big Summer Potluck made me feel.  I was anxious about walking into a room with an untested recipe (and we know I have strict rules about untested recipes) where I didn’t know a soul.  My lack of navigational skills resulted in me getting lost in rural Pennsylvania and being the very last person to arrive 30 minutes late.  Hello, I consider showing up on time being late.  And yet, once I set foot in the door all of that melted away.  I was embraced by these people.  I was part of their tribe.  I belonged.  And isn’t that what we all want?  To be accepted.  To be validated.  To be inspired.

There was laughter.  Warm sun, clear skies, and cool breezes.  Amazing products supplied from KitchenAid, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, New West Knifeworks, The Spice House, Fine Cooking, Green Valley Organics, Green Mountain Coffee, Cypress Grove Chevre, Naturally Nora, and Lindsay Olives.   And incredible food.  Because you have to know that at a food blogger get together we’re going to nosh on good eats.  To see people who know and make good food eat my potluck contribution and have their faces light up was priceless.  In my head, I sounded like an insecure adolescent saying OMG, Alice Currah is eating my cookie and she LIKES it!!!  There may have also been jazz hands and the Peanuts dance going on in my head as well.  I was too excited in the moment to accurately recall now.

So I’ve been quietly sending my thanks back to The Universe for giving me the opportunity to be part of Big Summer Potluck.  For the people who made it all possible and the people whose presence made it what it was.

I’ve also been thanking The Universe for allowing me to come to a complete stop on that winding back road in time not to hit the deer that decided to pop out of nowhere and lazily cross the road.  I don’t know if there is any symbolic meaning to seeing three massive bucks other than the obvious – slow down.  But that is one of the small moments from the weekend I hope to hang on to.  Yes Universe, sometimes I hear what you’re trying to tell me loud and clear.

Hungry for more Big Summer Potluck?  Check out:

Bread and Putter



Smells Like Home

Tickled Red

Add A Pinch

The Sensitive Pantry

Three Many Cooks

Fine Cooking

The Dinky Kitchen

Dine & Dish

The Coquettish Cook

What’s Kookin’ In Kara’s Kitchen

How To Simplify

My Kitchen Addiction

Four Chickens

Modern Wench

The Ivory Hut

Smith Bites

Souffle Bombay

The Peche

She Wears Many Hats

Bluebonnets & Brownies

Abby Dodge

Do you wonder what a Big Summer Potluck looks like?  Check out Erika’s lovely photos of the day.

And stay tuned for the Peanut Butterfinger cookie recipe that I took a gamble on being Big Summer Potluck worthy.