Twin Cities Boss Babe Fest Food Blogger Retreat

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As you probably saw on Instagram, I spent the last week up in Minnesota on a food blogger retreat with nine friends. BUT before I get into all the exciting details about that, I’d like to take a second and ask a huge favor. Is there any chance you could please please please fill out this really short reader survey? I sometimes come to this little space I call VV feeling super scatter brained and wishing I knew more about what YOU guys wanted to see. I really want you to feel like a part of this veg community and I want to hear more about you. You can fill out the quick 9 question survey here. Thanks so much in advance for taking the time to give me your feedback!

I headed to St. Paul last Thursday to spend the long weekend at a lake house in the middle of the city (how cool is that?) with nine of my favorite food blogger friends: Amanda from Heartbeet Kitchen, Sherri from With Food + Love, Renee from Will Frolic For Food, Alanna from The Bojon Gourmet, Sarah from Snixy Kitchen, Emile from The Clever Carrot, Kristan from The Broken Bread, Jayme from Holly and Flora, and Liz from The Floating Kitchen. We spent four jam packed days together exploring the Twin Cities food scene, chatting all things blog related, and photographing anything edible in sight. It was so great to spend time around people who have a similar passion for eating whole food and taking gorgeous pictures of our plates. Here are some of the highlights from the food blogger retreat:


  • Arrived in the afternoon, we were greeted with colorful appetizers and champagne cocktails.
  • Got a private rooftop cocktail session by Easy Oskey Bitters. My favorite cocktail was one made with snap pea-infused gin (it’s the green cocktail being poured in the picture below)
  • A six course all vegetarian and gluten-free meal at Saint Dinette. It’s amazing what chef’s can do with vegetarian food when they take the time to create a delicious dish instead of just falling back on the standard ‘vegetable medley’ menu option.

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  • Spent the morning baking in the Betty Crocker test kitchen! This may have been my favorite part of the whole trip! We broke off into pairs and had one hour to bake whatever we wanted out of the ingredients we could find in their massive test kitchen. Amanda and I made an Upside Down Matcha Cornflake Berry Cake that was EPIC. There was also a four layer Italian Cake colored with natural Trix cereal that was insane (and pictured below).
  • A floral crown workshop at Willful Goods. This was super cool because I’ve actually been a huge fan of Willful Goods for a few years now (we featured them in Driftless Magazine) so it was super exciting to visit her studio. Plus, I got to make and rock my first floral crown!

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  • We got down to business on Saturday and spent a good portion of the day talking all things photo editing, blog business, etc. It was super fun to see everyone’s process and just connect with like minded friends.
  • La Croix mocktail hour which was basically a dream come true for me since I’m obsessed with the stuff. We always have a case of the apricot flavor in our house at all times.
  • A fix course farm to table vegetarian and gluten-free meal catered to us at our rental home. Again, it was amazing to have a fancy dinner served to me that didn’t revolve around me having to pick out the meat.

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Thanks so much again to our sponsors for making this weekend a reality:

If you haven’t visited the Twin Cities, I can’t recommend them enough! I used Melissa’s city guide as a starting point for planning my trip and am already regretting not taking the time to pick up some bittersweet chocolate cookies from Rustica.

I’m still glowing from the amazing weekend so thanks for letting me binge-talk about it on here! I’ll be back next week with a recipe post for you all! <3



  • sweetkabocha
    July 27, 2016

    Wow, girls, what amazing experience *____*

  • Shannon
    July 28, 2016

    Amazing! This post lead me to four new, beautiful blogs.

  • Liz
    July 28, 2016

    It was such a fabulous weekend, and I’m so grateful to have had the chance to meet you so now we can be IRL friends! Your photos perfectly capture our amazing experiences. Snap pea cocktails and flower crowns for life!

  • Sara @ Cake Over Steak
    July 28, 2016

    It looks like you ladies had SUCH an amazing time together!!! It makes my heart full to see so many wonderful people coming together to celebrate food and this blogging community. YAYYYYYYY

  • Abby @ Heart of a Baker
    July 28, 2016

    These pictures are GORGEOUS and it looks like such a wonderful time! It’s so lovely to connect with other boss ladies in the blogging community (plus drink pretty drinks, duh). so good!

  • Grace
    July 28, 2016

    Whoa.. super jealous over here! This looks like such a beautiful and fabulous time! And such an amazing group of talented ladies, I’m sure you made memories to last a lifetime!

  • Renee Byrd
    July 28, 2016

    these photos are just so insanely gorgeous!!!! duh I’m making that flower crown shot my prof pic. the light on those freakin mocktails ooh baby! and thank god you got a side shot of that cake bc i def didn’t what was i thinking. reliving the weekend all over again w this post!

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  • Heartbeet Kitchen (@amanda_paa)
    August 10, 2016

    Your pictures capture the time we spent together so well. Thank you for being such an amazing human! I am so glad you made the trip, and we were able to spend four days with each other. You are as genuine and lovely in person as I thought you’d be. And so so talented. Love you!

    • Shellywest
      Heartbeet Kitchen (@amanda_paa)
      August 12, 2016

      Thank YOU for putting the retreat together – I can never express how much I got out of the experience and being able to connect with so many inspiring women! Hope to see you again soon, Amanda! <3

  • Jayme Henderson
    August 11, 2016

    Shelly, you have the magic touch with your photos. It was such fun – and an eye-opening experience – to chat photography and Lightroom that one afternoon. And that LIGHT that you captured near the lake at sunset! I couldn’t get over how magical that setting was. It still warms my heart and makes me smile. Aside from all of the activities and the setting, however, it was so wonderful to meet YOU! I only wish I could have given you one last hug, before you left super early on Sunday. You are a beautiful soul, and I know we’ll cross paths again in the future.

    • Shellywest
      Jayme Henderson
      August 12, 2016

      Couldn’t agree more, Jayme! It was so lovely to connect with you and the other ladies. Glad we will continue to keep in touch and hopefully cross paths soon! <3

  • Sherrie
    September 19, 2016

    I treasure and value this time we spent together, Shelly. All my love, always and forever!!!! xx

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