#FreshCoastRetreat was held in Muskegon, Michigan in a beautiful home overlooking Lake Michigan. To read more about what we did on the Fresh Coast, keep reading!
So if you follow me on Instagram or Snapchat (thank you if you do by the way!) you know that I was in Muskegon, Michigan last month. I was there for #FreshCoastRetreat, a retreat for food bloggers set on the gorgeous Lake Michigan!
We had a small intimate group of 16 people (Raul is not in the photo because he is behind the lens!) Most of the photos in this post were taken by Raul Velasco of Alejandro Photography. I highly recommend him if you are in the Michigan area for wedding and family photos! He’s also just an all around awesome guy and super fun to hang out with!
The retreat was held at Liz’s cousin’s incredible lake house. It was an absolutely gorgeous home and had superb views of Lake Michigan. You can visit it yourself if you’d like a fabulous weekend getaway unlike any other!
The house had 5 bedrooms but it can sleep 14 (actually can sleep 16 rather comfortably!). It was beautifully designed and the kitchen made my heart happy. Nothing could top the view though!
Obviously any chance I get to see Phi, I’m going to take it. There are not enough words on this earth to express how much I adore this girl, so I will just point to here, here and here, where I talk about her (though those are hardly the only times I’ve mentioned her on my blog lol). Basically she is just one of those incredible people where you feel truly blessed to have them in your life (and I’m not one to throw out the hashtag blessed willy nilly!) She’s a beautiful soul with a laugh that just makes you all kinds of happy. Everyone who meets her just adores her and I obviously can’t blame them! She’s my bestie for a reason!
Sidenote: I am constantly asked about this lip color… it’s NARS Grace, and you can purchase it here:
Dara and Liz were fabulous co-hosts and, with Phi, had planned a phenomenal itinerary of delicious meals and educational sessions. One thing I loved about this retreat was that everyone participated. Everyone was involved in teaching a session, and that was so great because it really made everyone feel like they were a part of something. I taught the segment on legal contracts (shocking right?!). Shoutout to Albion Fit for my fabulous leggings (not sponsored, I’m just always asked what brand they are so I’m sharing).
As you can see in this photo, we had a couple of extra guests! We had Cassidy from Bob’s Red Mill and Mairead from Stonyfield visiting us for the sessions, as well as Stephanie from Experience Grand Rapids.
But let’s start from the beginning shall we? The first person I met was Lee, from Fit Foodie Finds. We were both flying into the same airport at similar times so we decided to share an Uber to meet up with the rest of the group. Lee is totally hilarious and didn’t make me feel self-conscious about my potty-mouth, which is always a huge plus. When we first arrived, we were greeted by the hosts, and we basically had a meet and greet with wine and cocktails.
I finally got to meet Andie Mitchell, whom I had been dying to meet after reading her incredible New York Times Bestseller, It Was Me All Along. Her cookbook, Eating in the Middle is superb and I’ve made PJ’s Meatballs and Sauce twice now and it’s my new Sunday thing! I’ll be posting about it soon Truthfully, I had been following her for many years prior to her book(s) coming out, back when her site was still “Can You Stay For Dinner?” I have always admired her and found her to be such an inspiration. It was truly an honor to meet her and to discover that she is just as lovely in person as I could have imagined. She’s also one hell of a makeup artist and she’s witty and hilarious. I just adore her can you tell?
I also got to know Trevor and Jennifer of Show Me The Yummy. They are such a fun and fascinating couple who are killing it at this whole blogging full time thing! I’m amazed at the incredible business they have created in just 18 months, and now they are launching The Blog Village to show others how to do it! They are such a sweet and awesome couple and I’m so glad they were part of the retreat!
We snacked on hummus and chips, as Sabra was one of our phenomenal sponsors. I’m OBSESSED with this Lemon Twist Hummus by the way. OBSESSED you hear?? It’s AMAZING.
Then of course, being that it’s a food blogging retreat, we made the first meal. I was on Meal Team A and we made delicious lamb and I made my Champagne Sangria (which was very well-received thankyouverymuch!). Here’s Lee, cracking me up per usual.
We had Lebanese lamb and enjoyed our first full meal of the trip over fantastic conversations about life, blogging, and photography.
We had S’mores out by the fire (yes this house has a fire pit) with incredible chocolate provided by Lindt Chocolate, and enjoyed more fantastic conversation, until it got just chilly enough that we all agreed to go inside. The next morning, we had breakfast and then a few breakout sessions, then we headed “off-campus” for a lakeside lunch in Muskegon.
At lunch I sat next to Raul and Phi and across from Alexis of Hummusapien. Umm seriously how hilarious is that blog name? So creative and I love it. Alexis is not only a blogger, but she also co-owns a health food cafe called Alchemy in Columbus, Ohio. I wish I was there so I could check it out because everything she posts on Instagram and Snapchat make me want to try it all!
Lenny and Denise, of Chez Us, were also on my side of the table, so I got to spend time with them which always makes me happy. They are one of my favorite couples ever, and I think they are just hilarious and amazingly talented. They are just awesome people and I am so happy to have gotten to spend even more time with them.
When we got back, Lenny and Denise did a seminar on shooting video, and it was so helpful as well as completely entertaining!
We launched into a few more sessions, including one about ebooks and cookbooks, which I found to be fascinating. Andie, Gina and Amy (of Amy’s Healthy Baking) talked about their different experiences with writing and publishing cookbooks and it was so interesting to hear their different stories. In fact, Amy’s cookbook Healthier Chocolate Treats will be coming out in an ebook format on June 1! I’ll be making a recipe from it as a little bit of a “teaser” so stay tuned for that!
After the sessions completed, we made dinner (after another hummus-filled snack break of course!). For dinner/pre-dinner, Alejandra from Always Order Dessert made these Ginger Peach Moscow Mules that were literally to.die.for. I absolutely adore Alejandra. Her personality just sparkles and I love that about her. She’s a “what you see is what you get” kind of person and I think she is just absolutely lovely. Not to mention, her eyebrow game is on FLEEK.
Later that night we made S’mores around the fire again and helped each other work through some common issues with running a business, blogging, and the like. It’s really not a retreat without S’mores right? Everyone was so helpful that night. I shared my problem, which is finding time to blog and stay motivated to blog when I work full time as a family law attorney and I am emotionally drained by the time I get home or the weekend rolls around. To my surprise, the overwhelming response was that I was being too hard on myself and that if this is my passion-project, so to speak, then don’t force it. This was eye-opening to me. I had been carrying around this guilt surrounding how much and often I blog and both Heidi and Gina (who are BIG TIME) were strong supporters of releasing some of that guilt and just doing what works for me. I was touched by how kind, down to earth, and just all around amazing both Heidi and Gina were.
If you know anything about food blogging, then I’m sure you know Foodie Crush and Skinnytaste. They are powerhouses. And they are both fantastic women. I chatted quite a bit with Heidi on the trolley to dinner on the third day and we laughed together at how we could tell instantly when the cell service came back on because everyone was Snapchatting, Instagramming and texting. Let me tell you: if you want to make sure people bond and talk to each other? Send them to a lake house that has no cell service for four days!
Gina and I bonded a bit more over getting ready for our headshots. This was honestly hilarious, we had five to six of us jam-packed into the little workout room (because it had the best light and a big mirror) and Andie did everyone’s makeup. It was kind of hysterical, we basically all had matching makeup, but hey, the headshots all turned out great! We also did a group shot afterwards, which turned out fabulous!
After our headshots, we took the trolley into Muskegon for our final dinner (sad face).
Back to Gina! OK this woman is amazing. She is so passionate about her work, and she does it all herself! Her second cookbook, Skinnytaste Fast and Slow Cookbook, is now available for preorder and I cannot wait to get it! I made her Chicken Shawarma the other night and it was a huge hit with both myself and my husband! I also love following her on Snapchat (@skinnytaste) because she does great recipes, fun travel stuff, and honest cookbook reviews. You are probably already following her but just in case not, you definitely should be. And if you already are, know that she is so utterly kind and just all around awesome.
This trip was unlike any other. I feel like the small size of the group really lends itself to people getting to chat with every single person and truly getting to know one another. Lack of cell service helped with that as well, as we couldn’t spend time scrolling through our Instagram and Snapchat feeds, we actually had to have conversations…which was amazing! I highly recommend looking up from your phone and interacting with the people around you. I would highly recommend going on a retreat such as this to make incredible friendships and learn a LOT. I hope to be invited back to another one in the near future, as it left me feeling inspired and reinvigorated! Hopefully that will lead to more blog posts, but as I learned on the trip, even if it doesn’t…that’s OK! I am trying my best and that’s what matters. If you want to keep up with me on a more regular basis, the best way to do that is Instagram and Snapchat, as I update those far more regularly than the blog Come find me! I’d love to interact over there
A huge thanks goes to the sponsors who made the #FreshCoastRetreat possible: Experience Grand Rapids, Bob’s Red Mill, Sabra, Stonyfield, Lindt Chocolate, The Little Potato Company, DeLallo Foods, and Stonefire Authentic Flatbreads.
If you liked this trip to Muskegon, Michigan and want to see more of my travels, check out some of the other places I’ve been!
California and more California
And if you want a super fun idea for keeping your travel memories, check out these DIY Travel Memory Boxes!
Affiliate disclaimer: Please note that the link to the lipstick is an affiliate link, which means that I will earn a commission if you purchase through that link. I only recommend products and services that I use and love myself and recommend them based on my positive experience with them.