If you’re following me on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Snapchat, you probably saw the dozens of posts about the blogger’s work retreat I hosted called Invigorate Retreat. We partnered with Old El Paso to cover the costs of an incredible weekend getaway that helped us both relax, and get inspired and invigorated to totally rock our blogging businesses.
You can check out this video for the quick recap of the awesomeness, and read the post below for more details.
MOUNTAIN VIEW MANOR AND ENUMCLAW WASHINGTON
My friends Sheri and Larry (I know, cute right?) own the gorgeous Mountain View Manor in Enumclaw, Washington. They graciously offered to let us hold our retreat there and we couldn’t have picked a more beautiful location. If you’re looking for a great wedding venue in Western Washington, you’ve got to check them out!
We woke up to breathtaking views of the fog rolling in over the pastures (which were filled with hugely pregnant cows due any day!), and went to bed after soaking up the view of colorful sunsets bathing Mt. Rainier in pink and purple and gold. You couldn’t help but feel at peace there!
We also did some exploring in downtown Enumclaw. I think we were the first food blogger excursion to a huge antique shop called Collectibles on Cole, and boy were they amazed by the amount of utensils and kitchen equipment we went home with! We also shared lots of pictures on Instagram.
We enjoyed dinner at The Mint, which makes fantastic drinks and incredible food. There are a lot of great restaurants and shops in Enumclaw that I can’t believe I never knew about since I live just 20 minutes away.
GETTING A MAKEOVER AT TRE SORELLE SALON IN AUBURN WASHINGTON
Part of what made this a work retreat, and not just work, was the pampering. After a hearty breakfast at Sunbreak Cafe in Auburn, we headed over to sister Jenn and Sarah who own Tre Sorelle Salon. It was an easy choice for me because our family has been getting our hair cut there since they opened two years ago.
These ladies have done such a great job of combining the quality services and beauty of a high end salon, with the comfort and laid back atmosphere of a family barber shop. So we headed over there, with our film crew, to get our hair and makeup done for the day’s events.
Whoo-ee! We felt like models. Now that we all look so gorgous, let me introduce you to the bloggers from the weekend.
INVIGORATE RETREAT BLOGGERS
Dani Meyer, of The Adventure Bite, is a force to be reckoned with. She is an incredible food stylist and photographer, and has become one of my dearest food blogging friends since we met two years ago at a conference.
Rose McAvoy of Half Her Size is inspirational and delightful. She shares how she literally became half her size through encouraging simple changes one at a time. Her passion for helping others live healthy ever after is infectious.
Bobbi Burleson of Bobbis Kozy Kitchen is sweet, humble, and a diehard Seahawks fan. She jokes about her writing being too real and not fancy, but that’s exactly what makes her blog so engaging because her sense of humor and love for real food shine through every post.
And there’s me, Diana Johnson. If you’re new to Eating Richly, you can learn more about us here. I got the ball rolling organizing this event because I have enjoyed talking to each of these ladies on a weekly basis in our Mastermind group chats, but had only ever met Dani in person, so decided to make a weekend work retreat happen.
As food bloggers, we don’t usually get to physically work with co-workers, so events like this are a great way to brainstorm, collaborate, and encourage each other in our businesses.
OLD EL PASO LUNCH BUFFET
As Dani mentioned in the video, we decided that a Mexican inspired buffet would be perfect for lunch because it would be an easy way to prep a large amount of food that provided options for everyone’s food choices and restrictions.
So we approached Old El Paso to ask if they would be interested in sponsoring the event, and were so excited when they said yes! One of the best thing about being a food blogger is getting to partner with food brands that you love, and Old El Paso has been near and dear to my heart for as long as I can remember.
I was actually born in El Paso, so whenever we had taco night, my parents always bought Old El Paso shells and taco seasoning and said it was the only brand to use because great things come out of El Paso. Since my dad was in the Army, we lived all over the world. But we were always able to find Old El Paso products in the commissary, so they stayed a comfort food for me my entire life.
Since I’d only ever bought taco shells and taco seasoning, I didn’t realize just how many great products Old El Paso has! Here were a few of our favorites.
Bobbi cooked up some cod using their Baja fish taco kit. The seasoning was spot on and I will definitely be trying these at home. (photo by Rose)
I was also impressed with how fast they were to bread and fry, and Bobbi obviously had lots of fun making them!
They were great in the mini soft taco boats, which I will definitely be stocking up on. They’re the perfect size for my kids! (photo by Bobbi)
I decided to do my first test for creating a crockpot barbacoa beef recipe. I think I got the seasonings spot on after a bit of playing, so next time I just need to adjust the cooking time for just the right texture.
I used my beef in the stand and stuff taco shells, which I cannot believe I had not heard of before. I like my taco shells PACKED, which means they always fall over and spill their fillings all over the plate and I have to restuff each one before I eat it.
But these shells stand up on their own and hold every last bit of whatever you pack them with. TACO. SHELL. PERFECTION.
Dani did a great job directing the styling of the buffet, and I a learned so much about tablescape styling as I assisted her.
My husband Eric Johnson, and his production assistant Joel Miller did an amazing job shooting the video, and it kind of made us feel like celebrities! (photo by Holli)
Dani’s assistant Holli (who also happens to be my amazing Virtual Assistant!) was super efficient behind the scenes making sure we had everything we need, handling a lot of the clean up, and taking some photos of us all working. We could not have pulled it off without her!
SUNSET COCKTAIL PARTY IS A WORK RETREAT MUST HAVE
That evening we had two massage therapists from Bodhi Logic Mobile Massage bring their tables to the manor and give each of us an hour massage. That would be part of the RETREAT side of a work retreat!
After the massages, we had a cocktail party on the deck for our evening dinner. The view was stunning…
…the food was perfect…
…and the selection of garnishes to play with was so much fun.
FOOD PHOTOGRAPHY STYLING DEMO
The next morning, I whipped up some smoothies and then Dani gave us some quick demonstrations of some of the food styling and food photography techniques she uses. While this was part of “work” in our work retreat, it was so much fun that it didn’t feel like work at all!
Check out this nifty magnetic clamp wire holder. I immediately ordered one and now use it almost every day!
We also played with shooting in artificial light, which I think is one of the most difficult parts of being a food photographer in the Pacific Northwest. It can get dark a lot!
READY FOR THE NEXT INVIGORATE RETREAT!
As you can see, we had an amazing weekend work retreat. Our only complaint was that it was too short! (photo by Rose)
We so appreciate Old El Paso being the primary sponsor of our event, and I’m having lots of fun playing with the leftover products at home. (photo by Rose)
We aren’t sure when or where our next work retreat will be, but we do know there WILL be one!
Check out posts about our work retreat from the other bloggers:
Lunch with the Girls – A Quick and Easy Taco Bar
Create a healthy taco bar for an elegant lunch with friends
10 tips for hosting the perfect girls’ weekend
Here our some of our favorite recipes that would be great with Old El Paso products:
Healthier Seven Layer Dip Recipe
Chicken & Sweet Potato Layered Enchiladas
Slow Cooker Chicken Enchilada Quinoa
Slow Cooker Chicken Tortilla Soup