I intended to write this post last week when I was fresh off my trip to Cambria, California, but wouldn’t you know it, I came home with a serious head cold & crazy jet lag. So instead of writing, I spent the last week recuperating. Apparently, I needed a full week to do that. I’m old.

But seriously, taking this trip made me realize I should probably put more intention into certain things. It’s easy when someone else is planning a trip for you, (praise hands to Sasha who worked out the plans) to literally let them take care of all the details. This is only an issue when you don’t realize how long it’s actually going to take you to get somewhere & you end up booking plane tickets that give you less than 36 hours at your location.

Even though I only intended on staying the weekend in California, after over 12 hours of traveling on Friday I realized I just couldn’t possibly leave CA on Sunday (for another 12 hours of travel) so I ended up changing my tickets to come home Monday afternoon instead.

Aside from my extended traveling adventure, the rest of the weekend was just glorious. Being a stereotypical midwesterner, I had no idea this part of California existed (isn’t CA all warm, sunny beaches!?) & it was just stunning. I realize that may make me sound incredibly dense & even though I’ve traveled quite a bit, California was just one of those places I’ve not explored! But the entire weekend had me making serious plans to bring the kids & husband back here. All the beautiful rolling hills, fresh food, overcast skies & beautiful beaches made me think this would be an ideal place for a family vacation.

But this weekend, was just about the girls.

My California retreat weekend

I got to spend the weekend with a super fantastic group of women food bloggers in a big house on an avocado/goat farm! Even though I had only actually met two other women before the weekend, as soon as we all arrived, it was open hearts & open arms. We hugged, we laughed, people were reconnected or introduced. There were complements & questions & the whole house was super chill. I can’t image a better way to spend a weekend that with a food loving, big hearted group of power house gals.

Did I mention there was food? Of course there was… I did photograph food occasionally but I think we all felt this weekend was more pleasure than business so while there were a few photos, there was mostly just eating.

Because we ate so many amazing things this weekend (none of which I actually had to cook!) I wanted to share some recipe links with you guys! It’s always fun & slightly fascinating to have other people cook for you. I was inspired by things I don’t normally eat or maybe haven’t ever eaten (thanks to Betty Liu for my first experience with savory oatmeal!). Of course some things we ate were just a collaboration of the people cooking, with no recipe in sight, but the people who did have recipes, I wanted to make sure I shared with you!

The first night we feasted on these gorgeous tacos from Sarah at Snixy Kitchen. We actually had them with sweet potatoes but butternut squash would also be glorious (for some reason butternut squash is one of my fav vegetarian taco fillings).

Then we had these amazing rice pudding cups (also from Sarah) but with sautéed pears & orange bourbon dates. Being one of my all time favorite desserts, I’ve been craving this like crazy since last weekend!

The next morning we were treated to vegan baked oatmeal with the most delicious vegan maple cream from Laura at The First Mess.

Sasha from Tending the Table made this stunning white bean & fennel soup.

Alanna from The Bojon Gourmet made us some vegan Champurrado to enjoy with the rainy weather we were having & Lily from Kale & Caramel made us these Tart Cherry bars from Alanna’s cookbook!

Oh & how can I forget we were treated to Frankie & Jo’s plant based ice cream! While I was partial to the Beet Strawberry Rose Sorbet, I’m really more of a creamy ice cream person so my fav was the Chocolate Spicy Sugar Comb (tasted just like milk chocolate!).

I came home feeling super inspired for cooking – which you guys know hasn’t happened in awhile. It was honestly so refreshing to just be around such lovely women with a genuine love for food & the company of other brilliant gals. I can’t wait to meet again next year, ladies!