Like Candy with Strangers - KBIS with Robin Siegerman

Happy Hump Day Gang!

Over the past year, it's been my pleasure to meet a crap ton of you guys not only virtually but IRL (that is "in real life" for those you that don't know what an emoticon is).  Now whether this is a good or bad thing has yet to be determined, and I'm still not entirely sure my liver can take all this drinking (who am I kidding), it has been fun none the less.

The Kitchen and Bath Industry Showcase (KBIS in shorthand) was no different.  The show was less about seeing new products and more about meeting members of my stalkeratzi.  Suck it Bieber.... my girls are better.

I could sit here and talk about them all day but I thought I'd hand the reins of the blog over to the infamous Robin Siegerman of Renovation Bootcamp.

Don't worry,  you don't need a yoga mat.  She's not going to make you work out.

And just in case you're wondering, this ----> :D is an emoticon.

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"Don't go anywhere with anyone you don't know!"

How many times have you said that to your kids or remember your parents saying it to you? The only problem is, it was my husband saying it to me before my trip to Chicago for KBIS, the Kitchen & Bath Industry Show last week, an event I've been attending for more years than I care to admit (18). He was referring, however, to the fact that this year, I was traveling there from Toronto to meet up with Twiends—the affectionate moniker we Tweeps use for our regular online Twitter pals.

I rolled my eyes at him and said, "I talk to these people every day!  They're designers and moms, except for the token guy, and he's funny."

"How do you know?" he stormed.

"How do I know he's funny?" I asked mildly. (edit: I just AM funny, darnit)

"Not him," he fumed. "The moms! How do you know they're not axe murderers? How do you know these online Twits are who they say they are? And you're going to a foreign country to spend time with them?!"

 "Chicago isn't exactly like going to Katmandu!" I opined, USA and Canada being each other’s largest trading partner. I then reminded him how he was also leery before I met @MaureenCModecor  for lunch in downtown Toronto for the first time last summer, and she turned out to be a perfectly lovely decorator mom from Ottawa, just like she said—we yakked for hours then went shoe shopping! And how when Maureen and I met up with @lynneknowlton, from outside Toronto, for lunch this past winter and he thought I was crazy then too, she turned out to be fun, hilarious and we had a fabulous time. And how @Norbridge, another Torontonian, who he didn't believe was an online seller of fine antique china, is as gracious a lady as you could ever hope to meet, who I've met a couple of times, but sadly wouldn’t be able to be in Chicago with us. Triumphant, I thought that was all the proof I'd require to make my case, and that would be the end of it. But nope...

My 21-year-old son, who hadn't been paying attention (or so I thought), peered at me over the lid of his Mac and took his father's side. "So how is this different than when you kept telling me as a kid never to reveal any personal information on MySpace? You thought everyone was a potential stalker."

In a voice dripping with sarcasm, my husband drawled, "Oh, but this is comPLEEEEETly different. Your mother is making a mature decision as an adult."

Knowing when I've been trumped in an argument, I further displayed my maturity by stamping my stilettoed foot and flouncing out of the room to pack (it’s so important to wear cute shoes when leaving the room in a huff).

But as it turns out, I've been completely vindicated and proven right (as I almost always am, and if my husband would just stop fighting it, we'd all save so much time). As I knew they would be, my Twiends were fabulous one and all!  We’ve been plotting and planning for the better part of a year about how and where we would finally all get together in person and KBIS provided the perfect excuse and Chicago was the perfect venue.

Of the many events, adventures and experiences, a stand-out was @Studio41, where we met @NoirBlancDesign, the founder of #intDesignerChat, who organized a Tweet-up IRL (in real life), where a group of us sat for an hour furiously typing on our phones, tablets or laptops to talk with hundreds of others joining in from the Twitterverse, to chat about kitchen and bath trends. The final touch at that venue was Twiends in a tub.

The Merchandise Mart was hopping with design activity, as the three Canucks, Maureen, Lynne and I, along with our new/old Twiends @RMD_Designs and @Remodel_w_Feia cruised from party to party searching for the ultimate hors d'ouevre which we found at @SubZero: cake on a stick!

Although due to the recession #KBIS is a shadow of its former self, there were still enough exhibitors to keep our heads swiveling on our necks like dashboard mascots. But early in the day we were happy to turn out en masse to support our fellow Tweeps as they sat on a panel and publicly ruminated on the ins-and-outs of blogging. Among the experts on the panel was none other than our own @dcoopsd (so much cuter than his Twitter avatar), the founder of this very blog, and we were tickled when he publicly recognized us as his own personal stalkerazzi!  Joining him were @MarilynRussell, @susanSerra, @kbculture (with whom I spoke many times during her tenure as Editor of Woman's Day Specials Kitchen & Bath Magazine when featuring my work, but met IRL for the first time), and Caitlin Grogan, the editor of the online magazine But the highlight of the show for me (after all, this IS all about me) was posing with my book Renovation Bootcamp™: Kitchen in the #KBIS bookstore!

But you can't attend #KBIS without wining and dining, and this year was no exception—we were well pickled. From our meet up with @SuzanneCummings floral designer extraordinaire, our group fave and stalwart @Lawyer1mom and her gorgeous DD (dear daughter) @CarolineHoenk,  fashionista @TheDecorGirl at the Gilt Bar across from The Mart, to our flamboyant dinner at the fabulously colorful Latin restaurant @Carnivale312 where we were joined by @RMD_Designs' adorable DD and @livethefinelife we blew into The Windy City (so named for its verbose politicians not its weather!) and had a blast. At the end of the week, exhausted and percolating with new product and design ideas dancing in our heads, we went home to crow to our respective partners about our IRL Twiends, not a one of whom was seen wielding anything more dangerous than a fork.

Hopefully this will silence any protest that might otherwise have erupted when we all fly off to our reunion next year in New Orleans. Three cheers for Twitter bringing us all together! Party on, eh?

Robin Siegerman is the author of the Amazon best-selling book Renovation Bootcamp: Kitchen – Design and Remodel Your Kitchen Without Losing Your Wallet Your Mind or Your Spouse and Chief Design and Renovation Officer of Sieguzi Kitchen & Home Inc. in Toronto.