This past weekend I was in Chicago with 10 other food bloggers for a retreat. It was beyond fantastic, the free flowing discussions, learning, delicious food and getting to know fellow food bloggers made it a truly meaningful weekend, so today I’m going to share an overview of the ChiTown Retreat.
If you follow me on social media (specifically instagram and twitter) you may have noticed a flutter of photos and posts all containing the hashtag #ChiTownRetreat . Whenever there’s a get together of people who love social media, you can be sure that they will create a hashtag, I always love following different hashtags, so I hope if you follow along you enjoyed a little sneak peak into the weekend.
In the food blogging world there are hundreds of conferences, events, retreats, press events, trips, all happening throughout the year. Each event is unique in its own way, and what makes them each unique is the mix of attendees. It just so happened that the stars aligned and I was able to help plan the retreat and attend with the following ladies (the picture was taken during lunch in Greektown at the Parthenon restaurant) from left to right: Jocelyn from Inside BruCru Life, Meagan from A Zesty Bite, Liz from The Lemon Bowl, Sheila from Eat2Gather, Lynn from Order In The Kitchen, Rachel from Rachel Cooks, Aimee from Shugary Sweets, Kirsten from Comfortably Domestic, Monique from Ambitious Kitchen, Me, and Jocelyn from Grandbabby Cakes.
The weekend was filled with brainstorming sessions focusing on a whole array of topics from discovering your niche to hands on tips and tricks for programs and apps used for blogging, and of course since it was a food blogger retreat there was lots of food. SO much food. Food that was prepared by fellow food bloggers and food that was eaten out. Best Food Facts sponsored our groceries (and sent us surprise mini bunt cakes!), and I made my Mimosa Bar (the champagne was from ALDI (picture here of our #ALDIhaul) and Overnight Vanilla Oats (made with Bob’s Red Mill Oats and Stonyfield Organic Yogurt) with along with bacon made from Pig of The Month (remember when I posted a Pig of the Month review?) for breakfast one morning, and then made my Secret Ingredient Sangria (with citrus from Sunkist) during the evening and a caramel apple crisp made with Fat Toad Farm caramel (same caramel I use for my favorite salted bourbon caramel chocolate chip cookies and Mexican hot chocolate caramel cookies.
During the retreat we had a Yoga class from Yoga Six (it was only my third yoga class ever, so I’m beyond excited I didn’t fall down) and I was so impressed and enjoyed it so much I’m thinking of signing up for a yoga class next month. We had a tour of Eataly Chicago. It was incredible, all the delicious fresh food and wine were calling my name. Their cheese selection alone made my heart flutter. I cannot wait to go back soon! We also had dinner at Qartinos, I had forgotten I had been there multiple times, but the second I walked inside and saw the beautiful decor and saw the food I knew it was going to be good.
And of course I was thrilled to be able to spend time with one of my besties, Lynn (she did a write up of the retreat here). The weekend started with me bringing her a macaron, then she gave me a birthday present which was a macaron shaped jewlry box (how perfect, right?) and then we finished the weekend by getting a macaron at a little french bakery after the retreat! AND, since we were together and she’s one of my friends, we did a little photo shoot for my upcoming cookbook Five Ingredient Fridays with Friends and Family that will be coming out later this year (bottom right picture.)
I couldn’t have dreamed up a more perfect weekend and was so grateful to spend time with such inspiring women and was so appreciative of all the amazing sponsors.