August 19, 2013

Blogger Retreat 1.0 - 48 Hours of Fabulous

Thursday, July 25 started off quietly but didn't stay that way for long. It was already unlike a normal Thursday because my husband was home from work. So before the day got busy, we enjoyed some yummy iced coffee in the backyard together.

We talked a little about what the weekend would bring...what the kids would do, what his plans were. Then came the questions he'd been dying to ask for days:

"So let me get this're going to the airport to pick up a complete stranger and driving her to Lynne's? By yourself? And even Lynne has never met her?"

"You got it, " I replied, boldly.

"So no one has met her? Are you sure she's actually a 'she'?"

"Well not really, I guess. But if she isn't I'm sure I'll know that before she gets in my car, right?"

He nodded, but in retrospect, I'm sure he was having visions of The Crying Game and wondering what had gotten into me given my introverted nature, inability to make small talk and general preference to spend time with people I already know/love vs. a group of people I've never met. But the last time I disappeared for a weekend with people I barely knew was also with Lynne Knowlton. And that turned out great, so I guess he decided to go with the flow ;)

The next thing I knew, Ann Garvin and I were in my car, heading out on a two hour journey that felt like a mere 10 minutes. Turns out Ann is a lovely, caring, pee-your-pants-hilarious kind of that I'm now proud to call my friend :)

So...where were we going?

Lucky us - the hosts of Blogger Retreat, Lynne Knowlton and Lisa Smith, invited us to join them at a three day event to share business ideas, social media best practices, fabulous food and lots of belly laughs. I had a head/face/neck-ache for two days afterwards because my face was stuck in perma-grin the entire time. I even did the ugly craff - you know, the cry/laugh that leaves you unable to speak or even breathe? Yeah that happened. A lot.

How I was lucky enough to be invited, I'll never know. But I want to go back:

We were absolutely spoiled by beautiful weather and delicious food prepared by chef Derek Paterson from the Westin Harbour Castle Hotel in Toronto (who really should write a cookbook - tapping my toes in anticipation!) and his lovely assistant Tristan Knowlton (Lynne's daughter).

Thoughtful touches included a gorgeous gift bag for each of us courtesy of Anita Griffin of Brizo Canada - one of the event sponsors) and candies, soaps, water and custom-made luggage tags at our bedsides.

Our round table talks/presentations (let's be real - more laughing) happened here - in the barn:

And also by the pool:

What did we talk about? Who attended? Well, I can only share this fabulous collage of head shots by designer and photographer extraordinare Courtney Price - aside from that, we decided what happened in the treehouse/barn stays in the treehouse/barn. 

From top left to right: Lynne Knowlton, Norma Thiessen, Lisa Smith, Lisa Ferguson, Ann Garvin, Anita Griffin, Courtney Price, (me), and Kathy Sandler

At some point during the weekend I'm sure my husband was wondering if I had gone missing. The days were so packed with food, fun and near constant learning, that my head was too full to remember to call home. Perhaps it was not having to worry about someone being hungry, needing clean baseball pants, or more groceries...but even though we were busy, this was the first time I had relaxed in ages.

Mostly, it was being in the company of these wonderful, generous, intelligent and crazy-hilarious women that made me feel so comfortable that I didn't even miss home. By the end of the 48 hours we spent together, I had seven new friends and a completely different outlook on how all of my past work experience is leading me in a new but strangely comfortable direction. I feel energized about my opportunities for the first time in ages.

Thanks to YOU, my new friends, for helping me get there :)


  1. Wow. Your photography made me want to jump right back into those photos. I am so happy that you have photographic proof that my house was clean ONCE this year :)

    I love every single day of knowing you. Incredible how our blogs brought us together, and (without sounding like I am switching teams) I have grown to love you more and more every single day as my friend. You make me laugh. You make me cry. (a good one, with a bit of a caff)

    I am as proud as punch that you are my pal.

    Love you ~
    Lynne xx

    1. Love you right back :)
      So honoured to have been invited - it was a wonderful 48 hours.

  2. Beautiful pictures Janet, it looks like a little slice of paradise—right here in Ontario. Glad you had such a fun, enlightening, relaxing getaway. :)

    1. Thanks Martina.
      Paradise is definitely the right word!

  3. Im with Lynne, I want to jump right in to your photos!!! Let's all go back now. Honored to call you a friend, Janet, and looking forward to what the future brings!

    1. Wouldn't it be great if we could??
      Thanks Courtney :) Hope we meet again someday soon!
      Until then, I'll be stalking you online.

  4. Janet,
    Here's to new old friends. You had me at - I'll pick you up at baggage claim.
    I learned so much I've been making my web designer nuts with changes. Now we need a phase 2. We need a solid project for all of us to work together on.

  5. Wonderful post Janet!

    What a fantastic time we had! I have never been so inspired in all my life. Love all of you!!!!!! xoxo

  6. Everything is adorable. I love all that tiny embroidery!
    house extensions Qld


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