If you follow me on twitter, you probably spent the entire last week being inundated with photos of my food and travails in Miami using the hashtag #lumiasol.

Last week, I had the privilege of flying out to Miami, my old stomping grounds, to speak at the 2014 BlogHer Food Conference on behalf of Microsoft and Nokia. I did my presentation specifically on using your mobile phone to take exceptional food photography, and using that to build your audience. I’d always been an avid iPhone user, but the camera on the Nokia Lumia 1020 is a better quality than the DSLR I own. I’ve actually opted to sell my DSLR in favor of using the 1020 for the blog’s photography until I’ve saved up enough to get a DSLR that outmatches the 1020.

My session was actually a ton of fun! I’m not as good at public speaking as I’d like to be – sometimes my brain moves much quicker than my mouth, for example! – but I’ll only get better with practice, and this definitely was a positive experience. I talked a lot about how to use your camera phone to connect better with your audience, share thoughtfully, and build credibility – three things that matter to anyone trying to build a sustainable living with their blog. It received tons of feedback, and I’m very proud of it. (I’m considering blogging the session’s notes out, so that any fellow food bloggers who might be interested can see what I said and share their thoughts. Any takers?)

And, to celebrate the success of the session, the Nokia team threw a lovely rooftop party for us and fellow conference-goers to attend and chill at, at Touché in Miami.

(The nice thing about getting there first is being able to take tons of photos of the facility, sans photobombing!)

After that…it was time to get down to business. And, by business, I mean total relaxation, good times, good people, and good food!

A visit to Smith and Wollensky on South Beach – yes, and that’s the Lumia 1020 in the shot! – meant spending the entire lunch down by the water, in the sun. I most certainly had a lovely brown tan at the end of this meal!

Y’all know how the water gets to me! Well, water…and seafood.

This, followed by a hilarious swing dancing lesson…

…and an incredible dinner at 1826 Collins, a two-Michelin starred restaurant, was how my Saturday ended.

The next day…

…this happened. A visit to the Zoological Wildlife Foundation of Miami allowed us to get up-close and personal with wildlife, learn about their environment and how they’re interacting with ours.

I won’t share too many of the photos because I admit, they can be a bit difficult to view as someone who struggles with the idea of captive animals, but after a conversation with the owners of the facility, it made sense. Because so many people smuggle wildlife into the country, Animal Control and the local police departments will often rescue them and bring them to places like the Foundation. Endangered species, soon-to-be endangered species, and more have a safe space to stay until they are transported to someone or some place that can safely get them to their rightful habitat (or something close to it, to help them breed.) They care for the animals, nurse them back to health, and then will either trade animals with other facilities better suited for their needs or places with an animal that will will help them on their goals. Tours like ours help fund the facility’s daily operations. It isn’t a perfect science, but a vvaluable one, in my mind.

After that, we headed to a local Culinary School to take lessons from Allen Susser…

…and his sous-chef Victoria Nodarse on how to cook the meal we’d be enjoying that evening. My partner Nataja and I made, well, this:

And holy mother of mercy, was it amazing. A citrus ceviche with red snapper in it? So much win. So much yes.

And it was all so, so delicious.

The night – and, subsequently, our trip – ended with a trip to South Beach to visit The Clevelander, where we danced the night away (rather, I sat at the bar top most of the night on the phone with Eddy, pretending my water was a mojito.) In other words, I gladly played sober sister most of the night.