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Living proof of my Quaker Oats weekend

I ditched my 10 year high school reunion this weekend to hang out with my new boyfriend Larry.

PastaQueen and Larry

We sowed some oats together this weekend in Chicago. Is it weird that he never took off his hat? (Oat-kay, I might be exaggerating, but he is actually nicknamed Larry by the Quaker Oats staff.)

This weekend I had a fantastic time meeting many lovely and lively health and fitness bloggers at the Quaker Oats Living Proof weekend. But let’s speak the truth here: ultimately this weekend came about because Quaker Oats wants to see what the blogosphere and social media can do for them. It’s about commerce. I know it, you know it, Quaker knows it, and now it’s officially out there. I did not go away for the weekend just because Quaker Oats is nice, though they were definitely nice. I got some free swag, free meals, and a free trip and Quaker got people talking about their products and started some relationships that will be to their advantage in the future.

That being said, just because there’s something in it for both of us doesn’t mean we can’t all have fun fooling around together. Ogilvy (the public relations company for Quaker) did a stand out job arranging the event, keeping it low-pressure and genuinely listening to our suggestions for the weekend. I think they genuinely care about having a good relationship with their customers and I’m glad companies like Quaker are trying to engage us in real conversations. More companies should do that.

So, with the motivations of all those involved kept in mind, let me fill you in on all the silly stuff I did this weekend. I was the first blogger to arrive, which left me plenty of time to do stupid stuff like leap in front of the mirrored wardrobe in my hotel room and snap a picture of myself in mid-air.

PastaQueen jumping in the mirror

Please note the $7.00 bottle of Fiji water in the bottom right corner. I let it sit on my nightstand in favor of using a new invention called “the faucet.” David Bowie was lurking in the bathroom, but he was a gentleman and kept his eyes closed as I did my business.

David Bowie bathroom

Even when I turned on all the lights, the room was very dimly lit, but it let me better appreciate the gorgeous view.

Hotel view at night

The bed was amazingly soft and the wi-fi was free, so by the second night I wanted to move into my hotel room, even if it had a weird imitation snakeskin chair.

Snakeskin chair

There was a meet and greet in the bar that night and then a dinner which included chocolate sushi. The next day we had breakfast at the Quaker Oats headquarters, where they serve free oatmeal to their employees every morning. (I would save dozens of dollars on groceries if I worked for the Quaker Oats corporation.) I truly wish I woke up to a spread like this in my kitchen every morning.

Oatmeal spread

Then we went through a day of, with few exceptions, boring seminars. It was like being in college again, but when I went to college we didn’t have the technology to instant message our friends to make bad oat puns or speaker-related drinking games. Basically, oatmeal is good for your heart. Oat-kay?

Bloggers seminar

I am frightened to even discuss the contr-oat-versy that erupted over whether steel cut oats are better for you than quick oats or rolled oats. And Oat My God, please don’t even talk about it in the comments because I honestly do not give a damn. I eat instant oatmeal in the mornings because I’m a lazy-ass mutha’ and I like a warm, tasty meal I can cook in 99 seconds. No, I’m not going to make a batch of steel cut oats on the weekend and eat it during the week. No, I’m not going to do the other weird thing you’re going to suggest either. Seriously, don’t even start! Stop it! STOP IT!!

Um, I have obviously been blogging too long. I am now getting into flame wars with myself.

We also saw a cooking demonstration by the winner of season four of Top Chef, which would have impressed me more if I had cable. Instead, she seemed as famous to me as we must have seemed to her. Then we were off to another dinner I would never have been able to afford otherwise, a bar meetup, and then a brunch meetup the next day where I got to meet a lot of lovely readers. Thank you for coming out, especially to the one reader who tasked her spouse to brave the Chicago cold to buy a copy of my book.

I ate more oats this weekend than I have ever eaten before in my life. I am going to be really regular this week and my heart will never be healthier. I also stuffed as much oatmeal into my bag as possible, but stopped short of stuffing my panties with packets of sweet roasted pecan because I didn’t want nuts in my butt crack. I do not apologize. There is a recession on and I need all the free food I can get if I don’t survive the company layoffs next month.

But far better than the free swag was meeting everyone who attended, from those bloggers I’ve read for ages to those I just met. Sweet, sappy, but true. It truly was a great group of people. Thank you to Quaker Oats for hosting the event. Thank you also for giving me a packet of the limited edition pumpkin spice oatmeal that is available only at Wal-Mart. It was truly tasty, but I find Wal-Mart far too depressing to shop at, so I doubt I will be enjoying anymore. (Unless I find an extra pack in my panties.)

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Tanya • November 10, 2008 at 8:13 am

It was nice seeing you again in Chicago. I think the best part of the weekend for me was meeting up with other bloggers who blog about food/ weight/ fitness and talking geeky blogger talk and getting inspired too. And of course meeting 2 famous authors :0) (Leslie who wrote Locker Room Diaries is the other author).


K • November 10, 2008 at 8:37 am

That sounds fun!

Cooking porridge at the weekend and re-heating it through the week? There is something wrong with that picture. Mmm, rubbery porridge.


Charlie Hills • November 10, 2008 at 8:50 am

But don’t you know that steel cut oats are best because *WHACK* Hey! Did you just hit me on the nose with a rolled-up newspaper?

I’m with you, by the way. The instant oats are just fine. There’s a reason they exist. I had a — well, an “encounter” with them last week. If you haven’t seen it, click on my name, then “Oatmeal” over on the right.


Roni • November 10, 2008 at 9:03 am

I know I already said it but it needs to be said again… SO GLAD I got a chance to meet you and I can’t wait to catch up again real soon.

*Totally fighting urge to mention the contr-oat-versy*

I hope I find time to post about it this week!


EG • November 10, 2008 at 9:27 am

Stephanie was the winner of Top Chef 4, and please tell me she didn’t teach you how to cook oatmeal. You think you feel somewhat used and corporate going to Oatoberfest (too bad it was in November, ’cause that’s a good one), think about her.

I feel the same way about Wal Mart! It makes me feel sad about humanity.


Fat Bridesmaid • November 10, 2008 at 9:37 am

I second (third?) the comment about WalMart. I know the prices are amazingly low but my WalMart is especially trashy and it makes me sad for humanity every single time I go in. Thankfully there’s a Target and a million grocery stores less than a mile down the street.


Liz • November 10, 2008 at 9:49 am

I would KILL to have David Bowie in my bathroom. KILL. Love him. *Wanders off warbling “Young Americans.”

Glad you had such a good trip and got to meet some awesome peeps!


BrightAngel • November 10, 2008 at 9:59 am

Weighing in here on 2 issues.

I love regular uncooked Q rolled oats, cooked in the microwave to boiling with either water or unsweetened Almond Breeze, then sweetened with Splenda, and mixed with ground flaxseed and a bit of old fasioned evaporated milk.

I love WalMart (and also Target ).

Even though I have an excellent education (a Doctorate),

and an ample income (enough to shop in any store I like)

I enjoy frequent shopping in both of these stores.


Mymsie • November 10, 2008 at 10:10 am

Ok, that snake chair is *truly* hideous! It belongs in the Surreal Life house!


Mymsie • November 10, 2008 at 10:12 am

P.S. One time I cooked steel-cut oats in the crock pot and they were quite gnarly.


Mrs darling • November 10, 2008 at 10:14 am

Funny post! Love the humor. But now do a post on why you find Walmart depressing. I mean look at me. Here I am reading a post all about oatmeal and the only thing I take away from it is that Walmart is depressing. But really I’d love to hear your reasons why you find it that way. I dont quite get it.


Christie • November 10, 2008 at 10:16 am

You rock. I’d blog about my life, but I figure people have enough stress of their own & don’t need to borrow mine. Thanks for letting me live vicariously through you… and thanks for being great with the adjectives! :)


Lilbet • November 10, 2008 at 10:25 am

Hasn’t anyone read any of the books about Walmart? Nickeled and Dimed is a great book, easy read, and you’ll never shop there again.

I find it depressing too. Mostly how they prey on small towns and put moms and pops out of business (my hometown is now a Walmart Super Center, a McDonalds, a Subway, and that’s about it).

Oh, I could go on and on, but I won’t. (Just tracing Walmarts money to China and from China to fund the genocide in Darfur is enough for me!)

This post made me laugh and I loved the Walmart comment!


MzB • November 10, 2008 at 10:27 am

I love your blog! You are so funny & inspirational.


Helen • November 10, 2008 at 10:27 am

Am I allowed to say that I LIKE steel cut oats? And that I don’t mind cooking a weekly batch in the crock pot? If not, I also like the instant Simple Harvest Maple Brown Sugar Pecan, even though it costs more.


PastaQueen • November 10, 2008 at 10:44 am

@Mrs darling – I wrote about this last year in this post. It’s near the bottom.


Lynn Dirk • November 10, 2008 at 10:51 am

Okay this was very funny. But not as funny as your ten year reunion poem on twitter! Loved it. But then again oatmeal in your panties? I could be wrong.


the ben show • November 10, 2008 at 11:13 am

Just found your blog, can’t wait to buy the book! You, kind sir, are an inspiration! (and, yes, I realize you’re not a dude).


Jen • November 10, 2008 at 11:18 am

Loved your preemtive strikes on the controatversy.

I haven’t found any way that I like oatmeal yet. I tried the steel-cut oats in the crockpot and thought they were horrible. I have tried instant and regular oats too, no dice. I like them in a recipe called Oatmeal Brulee, which involves putting sugar and nuts on top and broiling it, but that seems to defeat the purpose. I do like oatmeal cookies and granola, but again, not the healthiest.


Shelley • November 10, 2008 at 11:31 am

I love that you called the Quaker weekend for what it was – it makes me believe that you write what you really feel, rather than get sucked in to all the freebies that are being offered to you and therefore play up their products.


Deanna • November 10, 2008 at 11:45 am

That’s funny, because I find Walmart depressing to shop at too, even though the prices are much lower than Target and even Kmart. Great minds think alike!!


Kyle • November 10, 2008 at 11:48 am

Chocolate sushi?!? You are seriously living the dream!


Super Healthy Kids • November 10, 2008 at 11:52 am

Guess I’m headed off to find me a copy of your book! If it’s as good as your blog, I’m sure I won’t be able to put it down. So glad to meet you this weekend. Must do it again sometime.


Quix • November 10, 2008 at 11:54 am

@Lynn Dirk – I totally agree that poem rocked, that made for the first laugh of the morning. :)


JEM • November 10, 2008 at 12:24 pm

Glad you had a good time in between those pesky meetings.


Madison • November 10, 2008 at 12:27 pm

Hi Jennette! You are way cool – thanks for chatting with me at panera!!


Calidaho • November 10, 2008 at 12:38 pm

I love oatmeal.


workout mommy • November 10, 2008 at 12:39 pm

it must be said, you are tOATally hilarious! I’m so glad I got to meet you in person and also need to get myself a copy of your book. I never have time to read anything anymore, but i will find the time just for you. (don’t you feel special?) :)

hoping we get the chance to meet again!



Sarah • November 10, 2008 at 1:20 pm

LMAO — it was SO great to meet you. You are so freakin’ fabulous!


Ginny • November 10, 2008 at 2:14 pm

It was great to meet you! I enjoyed the blog recap of your weekend. Another great entry as usual.


Esmeralda • November 10, 2008 at 3:52 pm

I think I would get into flame wars with myself too if I got some of the comments you get. They can be pretty goofy, and if you’re not feeling lolzy, I imagine it can be aggrivating as hell.


Can I have some free oatmeal too?



MizFit • November 10, 2008 at 4:25 pm

good god the controversy huh? im just gonna eat both an call it even.

loved meeting you in person…



sb • November 10, 2008 at 4:39 pm

PQ, were you waving at Kath’s camera in this video (at about 6:05)?


What an adorable cameo, and I’m so proud that I recognized you! (Assuming it was you, of course)


still reading • November 10, 2008 at 4:53 pm

PQ, please, just once in your photos, could you stand up straight? You’re so cute. Standing up straight is slimming, and does great things for “the girls”!


Lyn • November 10, 2008 at 5:02 pm

It was absolutely cool meeting you this weekend along with the other awesome bloggers!! We totally have to do it again (minus the basket of instant oats in the bar at 10pm…) heh…


PastaQueen • November 10, 2008 at 5:18 pm

@sb – Heh, heh, yeah that was me. I am officially a dork.


Bethama • November 10, 2008 at 5:38 pm

Oh, oatmeal, oatmeal, oatmeal… I’m living out in Japan, and they sell it here, but I’ve decided it’s too expensive for too little nostalgia, so I’m stuck boiling barley for twenty minutes when I want a hot, high-fiber breakfast. Now, if I could just find kasha, THAT would be worth its weight in gold…


Jen • November 10, 2008 at 9:05 pm

David Bowie bathroom! Pumpkin spice oatmeal! I’m so jealous.

Alas, I can no longer set foot in wal-mart, either. It makes me stabby.


Angie • November 10, 2008 at 10:40 pm

So great meeting you at Panera! My hubs is pretty cool for braving the windy city to buy me the book. What a trooper! And you were awesome for signing it.

Hope to cross paths again someday.


michelle • November 10, 2008 at 11:31 pm

Hi i just stumbled on your blog site and i think its great at least i know where to go for my chuckle for the day! Keep it up its great



s • November 11, 2008 at 1:15 am

this post made me happy :) :)


dietgirl • November 11, 2008 at 7:46 am

David Bowie in your bathroom… I think I would have performance anxiety with him staring at me!


Angel • November 11, 2008 at 5:03 pm

I completely agree with you!!! I am oatmeal’s biggest fan but I don’t have the time nor the desire to cook steel cut oats. It is very possible to get a great, nutritious meal in a packet.

Here are a few greats:

Kashi Instant oatmeal

Quaker Instant High Fiber Cinammon, 160 calories, 10g fiber, 7g sugar

Nature’s Path Instant Hemp Plus, 160 calories, 4g fiber, 6g sugar, 5g protein



kathy • November 11, 2008 at 11:14 pm

Not to add to any controatversy but I hope adding recipes is ok.

Cook yourself a bunch of oats. Put them in the fridge. For breaky, grab a cup of oats, mash in one egg, some cinnamon, maybe other stuff if you want and if you like runnyish oatmeal, some milk. Microwave for 3.5 minutes. Really good and gives you the protein push that oats just leaves you hanging for.

Next is oats and stuff in a pan. (now you know why I don’t write cookbooks)

3 cups oats

applesauce or oil of 1 cup

.75 cup sweetner

2 eggs

1 cup milk

salk, baking powder, spices, dried fruit, etc. that you want to add.

mix it all, pour into greased (or parchment paper) pan and bake 350 for 1/2 hour or more. comes out like a loaf.


Sara • November 13, 2008 at 8:39 pm

I love snapping pictures of myself jumping in front of mirrors. I just had to erase some of them. Sad.


Sharon • November 14, 2008 at 11:49 pm

Wow, definitely looks like loads of oaty fun!


PastaQueen • November 15, 2008 at 10:06 am

@kathy – Okay, that oatmeal, egg, Splenda and cinnamon concoction was rather good. It ended up becoming an oatmeal pancake in my microwave, but it was tasty! I bit dry though, so I might add a smidge of soy milk next time.


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Jennette Fulda tells stories to the Internet about her life as a smartass, writer, weight-loss inspiration, chronic headache sufferer, and overall nice person (who is silently judging you). She does this at JennetteFulda.com now, but you can still have fun perusing her past here.

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