Better Late then Never….. The Better Blog Retreat

Last month I was so fortunate to be part of the first and (hopefully annual) Better Blog Retreat in Park City, Utah. It was hosted by two of my dear blogging friends Heidi of FoodieCrush and Maria of Two Peas and their Pod. It was a weekend of relaxation, learning, listening, laughing, eating, eating and more eating. Would you expect anything less with a group of 15 food bloggers?

photo via Amanda
photo via Amanda

For three days in early October, we called Pinon Pines home. Nestled on the hillside of Old Town, Park City, the house couldn’t have been more gorgeous. I’ve cooked in a lot of rentals over the years, and this one takes the cake. For being as large as it was, it was still cozy and comfortable. Ski in/ski out, it had the most gorgeous views of Park City. The house was amazing and the perfect place to host the retreat. Thank you, Anthology Destination for so graciously donating the space!

Pinon Pines, Anthology Destination, Park City, Utah

The mission behind the Better Blog Retreat was just that- becoming better bloggers. And by better bloggers, I don’t mean bigger bloggers or more popular bloggers. It more about sharing. And encouraging. And finding your place amongst this amazing (though sometimes overwhelming) community.

Better Blog Retreat, Park City, Utah

Heidi and Maria went above and beyond making sure we were all taken care of. The welcome baskets were filled with so many awesome goodies from the generous donations of so many sponsors and how can you not love the gift baskets from Harry and David? Their pears are the best!

Better Blog Retreat, Park City, Utah
photo via Amanda

The first night everyone arrived, Sandy made the most amazing brie appetizer. I love this picture as it really shows what a bunch of nut cases we really are. No one was allowed to dig in before documenting it for our respective blogs and Instagram accounts. We gave it our best effort despite how huge it was!! Dinner that night was hosted at High West Distillery where we the food was amazing and the whiskey even better!

Better Blog Retreat, Park City, Utah

After a really late night of staying up and talking, we were greeted with snow the next morning. And a lot of it, I might add. Especially for early October. I for one couldn’t have been more excited as it’s that time of year when I start doing my snow dance, crossing my fingers for a good snow year- I’m so ready to start snowboarding!

Better Blog Retreat, Park City, Utah

Sandy and I threw on our beanies and gloves and braved the snow for an early morning hike and what turned out to be a highlight of the weekend. We had the most meaningful conversation and it was moments like this that made the conference so special. Love you, girl!

Better Blog Retreat, Park City, Utah

Just as we started to descend the mountain, the sun came out and giving us a truly magnificent morning! This picture doesn’t do the view justice but it turned out to be a gorgeous day.

Better Blog Retreat, Park City, Utah

Nothing like getting a good sweat in before coming back to a breakfast of champions. Chobani had laid out a yogurt bar and were creating custom yogurt parfaits for each of us. The blueberry, walnut and chia seed was good and the pineapple, toasted coconut and hazelnut even better. I’ve made some variation a few times since the retreat. It’s a great, quick breakfast.

Better Blog Retreat, Park City, Utah

I had time for only a quick shower before gathering downstairs for a morning of roundtable discussions that covered everything from working with brands, Google +, photo editing with Heidi and then the less serious subject of shoes, make-up and chocolate. Less serious but just as important, don’t you think?

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I couldn’t help but smile as I went back from my photos because most of them were of food. I can’t tell you enough how well we ate this weekend. Or how much but let’s not even go there. I lived in yoga pants for a week afar! Lunch on Friday was an amazing salad bar provided by Delallo featuring their new line of product, Salad Savors (Totally genius by the way!) Look for a new recipe this weekend using the Salad Savors but not in a salad!!

Better Blog Retreat, Park City, Utah

The afternoon that followed was the epitome of what Heidi and Maria were trying to accomplish with the retreat. While a large group was downstairs discussing something bloggy related (I couldn’t even tell you what they talked about….), I was upstairs in the front room talking to a few other mamas about balancing work with blogging and the constant effort it takes not to lose ourselves. No pressure to do anything you didn’t want to do and everyone got out what they needed or wanted. Kudos to you, ladies!! Dinner that night was hosted by none other than all of us. We all pitched in to make a homemade dinner that featured many of our own recipes. We sat around, drinking wine, laughing and most of us in some form of sweat pants. My kind of entertaining!

Better Blog Retreat, Park City, Utah

After two very late nights, I slept in on Saturday forgoing any type of workout. Sometimes taking a day off is just what I need. And then to stumble downstairs to fill my belly with homemade waffles? Only to head back up to bead with a piping hot cup of coffee and lay in bed with Heidi and Kristin? Yep, this day was off to a great start.

Better Blog Retreat, Park City, Utah

The morning followed with more relaxing. We sat around the living room, all with computers on our lap talking about better blogging practice, navigating Pinterest, our kids and families, the latest sweaters, great leather boots, scheduling on Facebook and everything in between….

Better Blog Retreat, Park City, Utah

To keep the mellow day theme going, Heidi and Maria arranged for local therapists from Zante Spa to come in the afternoon and treat us all to mini massages, pedicures and manicures. Can you say heaven? It was blissful. Ali smiling for good reason!

Better Blog Retreat, Park City, Utah

Dinner that night was over the top exceptional. Jodie Rodgers, the executive chef from Deer Valley Resort and Julie Wilson, the head of food and beverage, treated us to a menu and wine pairing that left all of us with full bellies and slightly fuzzy noggins. They farro is a dish we’re all still talking about and the dehydrated vegetables were outstanding! Thanks, you two!!

Deer Valley Dinner, Better Blog Retreat

Thank you Maria and Heidi for letting me part of this amazing weekend. Thanks for all your hard work, planning and time you put into this. I’m not only lucky to have been a part of it but to call you ladies friends. I love you both like mad!! xoxo

Better Blog Retreat, Park City, Utah
Why must I always be talking?

In the spirt of what the Better Blog Retreat was all about for me, Please, please PLEASE take the time to read a little more about all the ladies that attended. If you’re not familiar with their blogs, which I’m sure you all are, click over and learn about who they are and what they do. Each and every one of them is beautiful and a great addition to the blogging community!

Better Blogger Retreat Attendees 2013

Maria from Two Peas and Their Pod– otherwise known as work horse extraordinare. There is no doubt why the girl is so successful. She works harder than just about anyone I know. If you want something done, call Maria. I could take a lesson or two from her. Thank you, Maria, for showing me that hard work is rewarded.
Heidi from Foodie Crush– my roomie and blogging confidante. Forget the fact that she’s got mad talent behind the camera and a crazy gorgeous magazine, she’s the Jill of the blogging world- and knows something about everything! Watch out for this one. Big things are coming her way. One of the most generous and giving peeps you’ll ever meet. Inside and out. Heidi Ho- thank you for being a great listener, always upbeat and the ultimate in generosity.
Sandy from Reluctant Entertainer– the unofficial room mom. But not the room mom you’re thinking of but rather the hot one who has great legs and wears pink lip stick. She also happens to be full of wisdom and words of encouragement. Thank you for reminding me to slow down and that my husband and kids should always come first.
Jessica from How Sweet It Is– she might be funny and I know she’s gorgeous but she’s one smart cookie too. A classic example of winning even when you don’t play by the rules. You’re writing your own rules, staying true to yourself and I love you for that. Keep on doing what you do because it’s awesome sauce!
Lisa from With Style and Grace– who I’m hoping will become my new stylist. Because of her, I now own two new, very classic and ultra comfortable cashmere sweaters that I’ve been rocking just about everyday! Thank you for reminding me what it’s like to have a little one at home. It’s too easy to forget the struggle that comes with balancing mamahood and work but you seem to be doing it beautifully.
Gina from Skinny Taste– bringing a little east coast west. I was super intimated to meet Gina as she’s a power house in the blogging world. Thirty seconds into meeting her, I knew I was going to love her. As sweet as they come and deserves all the success she’s had. If you want lighter fare and real food- she’s your gal!
Dara from Cookin Canuck– my favorite Canadian! Dara is honest, down to earth, diplomatic and dedicated. One of my first blogging friends, I’ve looked up to Dara since I started and still do. Beautiful on the inside out, I’m pretty darn grateful to live so close and see your smiling face as often as I do!
Amanda from Kevin and Amanda– Amanda is mad talented behind a lens but she also happens to know the internet world like the back of her hand. In two words: computer genius. Thanks for fixing my back end and sharing your wealth of knowledge with everyone. The blogging community is better because of people like you!
Jenny from Picky Palate– seriously, could you be any nicer? Or any more photogenic? Because of you I will avoid the center of a group photo if I can help it and will forever put my hand on my hip when smiling for the camera. My world has changed for the better!
Rachel from A Southern Fairytale– my Texan soul sister. Your positive energy is in infectious. Rachel is the kind of girl that if we lived closer and blogs weren’t a part of the picture, I’d totally stalk her to become my bff. What else can I say- she’s the goods! And has the best boots.
Kristen from Dine and Dish– I love that you are constantly trying to make your self better. You could write the handbook on spreading the love. You inspire me to look at myself, my relationships and my blog and to improve them where I can. Thanks for being such a sweet spirit and keeping it real. The world could do with more people like you in it!
Lindsay from Love and Olive Oil– my fellow canning and preserving sister. Lindsay is proof that you can do it all well. She runs multiple businesses, has written multiple cookbooks and designs/manages multiple food blogs. Just when I think I can’t do it all, I will think of you and power through. And you need to come back to Utah so we can do some canning!!
Ali from Gimme Some Oven– it’s been so much fun to watch your blog grow. You’re a go getter and constantly setting the bar higher and higher for the rest of us. It’s not often I use a filter but you’ve showed me that sometimes it’s a good thing! (Like what not to say to single people…)
Lori from Recipe Girl– finally another mountain mama in the blogging world! Loved chatting about skiing and all things mountain town related. It’s refreshing to see how dedicated you are to your son and husband. We all balance differently and you seem to be doing a great job- thanks for the positivity!

Last but not least, a big thank you to the sponsors as it wouldn’t have been the same without your support: KitchenAid, Chobani, Delallo, Wisconsin Cheese, Harry and David, OXO, Albion Fit, Whole Foods, World Market, Sweet Tooth Fairy, Anthology Destinations and every one else that donated to make it such a special event!