Yesterday was Secret Recipe Club Reveal but today I’m back with a full recap of my amazing weekend at Blend Retreat in Boulder, Colorado!
I left super early Friday morning, flew through Dallas and arrived in Denver around 11am. I was one of the first to arrive so I hung out at the airport for a while before meeting up with one of my roommates for the weekend- Sarah. We had a really exciting afternoon lined up! After meeting up with a few bloggers I already “knew” from reading their blogs, Courtney & Alyssa, as well as a few new friends- Bobbi & Brittany, we were picked up from the airport in style.
That’s right. Maddy and Alex, the founders of Love Grown Foods, picked us up in Elby, The LOVE bus. Isn’t it awesome?! Maddy got super excited when she heard some of her LOVE bloggers were coming to Denver so she offered to pick us up and take us on a couple of tours. We got to see their office- check out the ping pong table! They built all the furniture themselves. We learned some fun stuff about Love Grown Foods and the whole office smelled like cinnamon raisin granola. It was heavenly. Then we saw their old production site, a super small manufacturing space attached to their office. It’s currently almost empty because they just recently outsourced their production to Fresca Foods. Maddy and Alex also hooked us up with a huge box full of some of their favorite local food products. I cannot wait to try them all!
The next stop on our journey to Boulder was touring the Fresca Foods facility! So many awesome products are produced here: Love Grown Foods Granola, Lara Bars, Justin’s Nut Butter , 34 Degrees Crackers and Boulder Ice Cream just to name a few. We saw their research and development room, their recipe testing room and then headed to the back to see the actual production rooms! We saw Lara Bars being packaged and got to taste one right of the line. It was AMAZING. So much better than when you buy them in the store.
We also so the LGF room. Maddy and Alex told us about how they used to make all the granola themselves, mix it by hand and seal all the bags with the help of their parents. It’s so amazing to hear how much they’ve grown. They’re two of the most passionate people I’ve ever met and you can tell they really pour their heart and soul into their business! So proud to represent them as a Love blogger.
Here’s some more pics Maddy snapped of all of us:
As an added bonus, THE Justin, of Justin’s Nut Butters, just so happened to be on-site at Fresca Foods while we were there. We got to meet him, chat with him for a while and he gave us a tour of his production room. It was amazing. He’s also built his company up through a lot of hard work and dedication. In fact, it’s growing so fast that the whole reason he was there on Friday was because they were installing more equipment so they can keep up with the demand for his products! We even got a picture with him 🙂
After our tours were over, they drove us the rest of way to Boulder and dropped us off at Blend! The Blend Retreat was held at Chautauqua Park. It was beautiful! We checked in at the lodge and met our amazing hostesses- Lindsay, Katie & Janetha, got t shirts and MORE food. So.much.swag! It was incredible. I could barely carry everything to the cabin! Sarah and I had just enough time to say hi to our other roomates- Maria, Jen & Jess and change before it was time to head to the cocktail hour and dinner. At the cocktail hour I got to meet some of the other bloggers I was looking forward to seeing at Blend, including Laura, Tina, Heather, Jill and so many more!
Following cocktails, we had a sit down dinner. Dinner meant meeting even more new friends like Amy (she’s pregnant and totally adorable), Dena, Heather, Katie, Amanda and more! I had the vegetarian pasta and then we had mini cupcakes for dessert from a local Boulder company. We got to vote on what flavor we wanted, and then Lindsay, Katie and Janetha each picked a flavor. I tried s’mores, chocolate peanut butter pretzel and one with lavender. After dinner, we headed back to our cabins. Everyone was exhausted after traveling all day and we had an early morning ahead of us!
Saturday morning we woke up bright and early for bootcamp at 7am. It was sponsored by Fit Mixer who gave us some great aminos to drink before and after our workout. Tina & Lindsay took us through a bootcamp workout and it was tough! We used resistance bands and I definitely worked up a sweat! We ended with a fun game that involved splitting us up into teams and seeing which team could do the most of a variety of different exercises.
After bootcamp we headed to breakfast. It was sponsored by Xagave and it was AMAZING! They had so much good food…tons of fresh fruit, oatmeal, Chobani, so many different toppings, almond butter and muffins baked with xagave. Everything was delicious and I was totally stuffed by the end. I also met Julie, Katie, Susan and some others I hadn’t met on Friday. Side note- Xagave is one of my new favorite companies. I’d never tried agave nectar before but I really love their product! Actually, all of the sponsers of this event were amazing. I was introduced to a bunch of new products like Fit Mixer, Xagave, Green Mountain Coffee and Cheribundi….and some of my all-time favs were there as well- Chobani and Love Grown Foods!
A few of the sponsor companies actually sent employees to the retreat to spend the weekend with us and it was really cool to get to talk to them. I finally met Lindsay and Emily from Chobani, who I’ve been emailing and tweeting with for the past 2 years!
That’s Lindsay from Chobani. Isn’t she adorable?!
After breakfast, we headed back to our cabins to get ready for the hike. At 10am we all gathered at the trailhead and headed out on a 4 mile round-trip hike!
I was actually in the very front of the pack the whole time with Lindsay, Laura and Heather. Guys, this hike was NO JOKE. Probably one of the toughest hikes I’ve ever done. There were tons of rock stairs and super steep parts.
It was definitely the hardest workout of the day….but it was so worth it.
We hiked up to The Royal Arch and the view from the top was AMAZING! You could see all the way to Denver. And the weather was absolutely perfect.
By the time we made it back down, it was about 12:30. We headed back to shower and change and then I spent a little time in the lodge putting together the Foodie Penpals assignments. Foodie Penpals doesn’t stop for Blend! Then, a large group of us headed out to lunch at a local restaurant. I got to meet even more new friends like Kelly, Gina, Calee, Ashley, Lynne and Lauren!
I got an FYIPA and a grilled cheese with pesto, avocado and tomato, which I devoured in about 2 minutes because I was STARVING! It was so fun to sit next to Gina. I drool over her food pictures every day!
After lunch, we headed out to Avery Brewing. The hubby was SO JEALOUS! Don’t worry, I got him a t shirt. We tasted several beers and even got a special, short little tour. We sat outside and chatted for a while. I ordered some hummus and Heather got some sweet potato tater tots that were AMAZING. And I don’t even like tater tots!
Later, we headed back into town and went to Rio Grande- it was Cinco de Mayo after all. I was pretty wiped out by this point and still full from my hummus so I was chugging water, but lots of people enjoyed margaritas and food and mayyyyybe a few too many tequila shots for some people, who shall remain nameless 🙂 At dinner I got to meet Ashley…another amazing food blogger/photographer and Lena.
That’s Lindsay’s photo I think!
And that one’s from Ashley. Thanks ladies!
We headed back to the lodge after dinner and spent some time hanging out and munching all the extra food we had laying around from the sponsors.
Sunday morning brought another 7am bootcamp, led by Chobani…but I skipped out on that one in favor of an extra hour of sleep. My body thanked me. I walked 20,000 steps on Saturday! Chobani sponsored Sunday’s breakfast which was also delicious. Lots of greek yogurt, fresh fruit and bagels. I also tried a Mocha Nut Fudge K cup from Green Moutain and it was AMAZING. Probably my new favorite thing…and I didn’t even think I liked mocha. It was so good that I had two cups. I must find it in the regular coffee version since I don’t have a Keurig.
After breakfast there was a raffle and the hosts were sweet enough to make sure everyone got a prize. I originally won a giftcard for a new blog header design, but since I just had mine redone, I told them to give it to someone else! My new friend Brittany actually ended up winning and I’m so excited for her! I won a gift certificate for some Xagave products and I’m SO EXCITED about it!
After that it was time to head to the airport. My roommate Maria got a rental car and was sweet enough to drive several of us to the airport. It was a long day of traveling, but totally worth it! It was so awesome to meet so many of the bloggers I interact with every day online….and to meet so many new friends and find even more blogs to follow.
Huge shoutout to Lindsay, Katie and Janetha. They did an AMAZING job planning and organizing this retreat. It was an incredible amount of work and they made it pretty much perfect. All of them were absolutely amazing to meet in person. They are beautiful, sweet and down-to-earth, just like they are on their blogs and it was so fun to get to hang out with them. They each made an effort to meet and talk to every single person that was there and make everyone feel included in everything we did.
There’s already talk of Blend Retreat 2013 and trust me, you guys will all want to be there…so keep you eye out for more info!
Group shot thanks to Lauren.
Oh, and if you think we went home empty-handed, you are incorrect. Check out all this swag!
Hope you all had a fabulous weekend!!