This past October, I has the pleasure of being a part of the Better Blog Retreat, organized by Maria (Two Peas and Their Pod) and Heidi (Foodie Crush). I, along with 12 other food bloggers, traveled to Deer Valley Resort for a long weekend of talks, learning, and of course food.
The retreat was hosted at a gorgeous house overlooking Deer Valley, Utah. I had never been to Utah before this trip, but from the moment I got to the house I felt an immediate connection with the land.
I get that way sometimes. There are places that make me feel grounded and at peace. It’s something deep within me that’s hard to explain. Like when you see a friend you haven’t seen in a while and you get a warmth in your chest.
It probably also helped that I was welcomed literally with open arms by a group of amazing women. This was my first time meeting almost everyone in person, but everyone’s friendliness made me feel an immediate connection. Within seconds of shaking hands, Laura (Blogging Over Thyme) and I laughed about getting the perfect shot of the bright yellow trees, and bonded over our mutual love of photography.
In our rooms we were greeted by a welcome goodie bag containing chocolate, notepads, and clothing from Albion Fit. After exploring the house and settling in, we went for dinner at Brass Tag, an upscale-rustic restaurant at The Lodges at Deer Valley. We were greeted with cocktails and introduced to the staff from Deer Valley, as well as representatives from Arla, Lindt Chocolate, and Private Selection.
They fed us like kings at Brass Tag- over 15 dishes in all that we happily passed amongst ourselves. There was no ‘my plate’ in this crowd; we were all happy to share. My kind of people.
The next morning we woke up to a gorgeous sunrise. The house was in a prime location overlooking the Deer Valley Ski Resort. We came right as the leaves were changing, and the mountains lit up like fire every morning.
Of course breakfast wasn’t complete without a picture of my plate overlooking the mountains. Not pictured: Kelly (Just A Taste) right next to me getting the exact same shot. Can you blame us?!
We spent the afternoon in a large group discussion, sharing tips and thoughts on working with brands. At lunchtime, we were treated to a mac & cheese bar with Arla.
The afternoon was spent cozying up to each other while talking about social media strategy and the future of blogging. Kristin (Iowa Girl Eats) talked about becoming gluten-free after developing celiac, and how it effected her brand. Though at first it was hard to transition her blog to gluten-free only recipes, it made her realize the importance of being true to yourself, whatever that truth is. I found it totally inspiring, and reminded me to be as authentic as possible amidst the facade of a “perfect” blog. Liren (Kitchen Confidante) wowed me with her calmness and ability to communicate effectively and gracefully, and Ali (Inspiralized) motivated my entrepreneurial spirit with her business savviness.
After filling our hearts and heads, we filled our bellies with chocolate. Lindt provided the most drool-worthy chocolate & wine pairing, and Ali and I cheers’d to a day of deliciousness.
We then went for a walk around the neighborhood, oggling over the beauty that surrounded us. The sun shone bright and everyone walked with a bounce in their step. It felt as though we were all excited to be experiencing this together.
Back at home, Private Selection prepared a gigantic charcuterie spread, where Andie (Andie Mitchell) and I discoverd our mutual love of cheese. Her smile was infectious throughout the weekend, and she made everyone in her presence smile.
Following appetizers, Private Selection prepared a gorgeous dinner feast, which I sadly didn’t get a picture of because I got too excited and went straight for the buffet.
I shared a room with Monique (Ambitious Kitchen) and Liz (The Lemon Bowl) for the weekend, and the three of us had mandatory dance parties every night. We put on our matching Albion Fit clothes, blasted Drake, and danced like goofballs. I love them.
The next morning we woke up early for a running clinic with Altra Running. Altra’s founder, Golden Harper (side note: is that not the most beautiful name ever), taught us to properly lace our running shoes and how unlike most shoe companies, their shoes form to the natural shape of your foot. He made us all laugh by saying “they’re not ugly, they’re foot shaped!”
I have to say, I was pretty amazed by how my feet felt in these shoes. Though I used to regularly, I haven’t run in years because my knees get sore easily. But I was able to run during the clinic and walk throughout the weekend with absolutely no pain.
In the afternoon we headed to The Montage for lunch and a trip to the spa. I devoured the Steak Nachos with Ali (Gimme Some Oven), who proclaimed chips and salsa (or guac or queso) to be her favorite food.
Then it was off to the spa, where Kathryne (Cookie + Kate) and I bonded over (what else) food and photography while wading in the huge spa pool. Hanging out with her was one of the highlights of my trip. I greatly appreciated her openness and honesty, and loved hearing about her journey through the crazy world that is food blogging.
Following relaxation time, I got a 90 minute (hallelujah) massage. The view from my massage room was almost as good as the massage itself.
After a quick freshening up, it was off to dinner at Riverhorse On Main. Andie, Laura, Kelly, and I got the bison short rib, which was rich and hearty and cooked to perfection. Of course we got a photo of the four ribbies together.
That night we sat around talking more about blogging, and Heidi reminded me that it’s totally possible to have a blog and also be a photographer. She does some amazing shoots for Deer Valley on a regular basis, and I love that she’s able to balance it with being a total boss on Foodie Crush.
Throughout the weekend, I was amazed by Maria’s drivenness. She has two young kids at home, yet is able to be a leading influencer in the Park City (and food blogging!) community. Her steadfast ambition to be a businesswoman balanced with her total love for motherhood and her children was inspiring.
The next morning, after most of the group left for the airport, Heidi, Maria, Monique, Andie, and I went to the Deer Valley Grocery Cafe for breakfast. We ate a spread of scrambled eggs with lox, a dutch baby, french toast, and cookies. It was a perfect low-key ending to an absolutely memorable weekend.
I feel like I can’t say it better than I did in this Instagram, so I’ll say it again: To the women who I got to spend the past four days with, thank you for sharing your talents, your knowledge, and your selves this weekend. You are a force to be reckoned with and I’m humbled to have been a part of this weekend with you.
And to the sponsors that made this weekend happen, thank you for bringing us together. I am so grateful to be in an industry filled with people with so much knowledge, passion, and respect for what they do. Thank you!
Now let’s move on to the giveaway before I tear up. I’ve teamed up with one of the sponsors from the weekend, Albion Fit, for my 9th day of my 12 Days Of Giveaways. They are so generously gifting TWO $100 gift certificates to two Broma Bakery fans. Enter the giveaway on Instagram here and be sure to see my full post on Albion here!