Mixed 2013…Success on the Mountain–Part One

It came. It went. What a blur.

Mixed was a huge success this year, with around 100 great folks gathering together on the top of a mountain in the middle of nowhere. Sponsors, bloggers, cookbook authors, photographers, chefs, videographers…all of us were out in force and bonded over great food and fun.

I want to do it all over again.

My co-host, the lovely Paula of Bellalimento and I planned and worked for months and months to pull together all of the details, plan the sessions, prepare the swag, arrange the activities. Hopefully everyone enjoyed their time with us!

I have so much to tell you about, so I will start with Thursday & Friday…Saturday needs a post of it’s own. What a DAY! So let’s get stated, shall we? Let’s just call this Part One.


On Thursday night before the actual conference began at Mountain Lake Lodge, some of our early arrivals, sponsors, and a few speakers joined together for a meal at my favorite local restaurant – The Bank Food & Drink in Pearisburg, VA. The chef, Mike Behmoiras, is one of the best friends I have, and he is incredibly talented. Our guests enjoyed all of his amazing dishes, from the pumpkin and pear salad with goat cheese, to the sweet tea brined pork tenderloin, to the array of desserts he brought out for us to share. No one left hungry, that’s for sure!


The following morning, Tami and Helene started the day off with a private photo session for a group of eager photographers. I so wish I could have found the time to join them, as I heard AMAZING things from that group! I’ve already seen improvements from many of those photographers…how cool is that?

Once again our conference was held at Mountain Lake Lodge, home of Dirty Dancing. This year far outshined last, however, as the resort has undergone a multi-million dollar renovation that really made a statement! After registration, our attendees were invited up to the Dixie Crystals Sugar Suite to snack, drink, and make sugar scrubs! I was so happy to see so many people up there having such a great time, mingling, having wine, laughing and playing…what a fun experience! We were treated to bath fizzies, Chocolate Lip Scrubs (thanks Hershey’s and McCormick for helping out with that!), Dreamsicle Sugar Scrubs, and even a mix and match sugar scrub experience…too cool! It smelled incredible in there!


After a short break, we all headed to the Ballroom for start the sessions. First up was Andy Marzka, ad guru. Andy knows everything there is to know about layering ads so that you make the most money you can from your blog. Next up was Taylor Mathis. Taylor, for those of you not tin the know, is just precious. An talented! He’s not only an amazing photographer, but he has a wildly successful cookbook – The Southern Tailgating Cookbook. I’m a huge football fan, so this book is right up my alley…and we knew Taylor had to be at Mixed to talk all of us through the world of cookbook writing. He didn’t disappoint! Following Taylor were two of our favorite folks – Lenny & Denise of Chez Us. These two people are about the best people you will ever meet, and just ooze talent. Videography is the name of their game, and I heard so many great reviews of their session!

After a brief break, everyone gathered at Harvest, the restaurant at Mountain Lake Lodge. Dinner was a true crowd pleaser! Chef Mike (yes, another Chef Mike!) took such great care of us the entire weekend, and his love of food really shines. We were so lucky to have Mike take such great care of us!


The night was far from over after dinner…we all reconvened downstairs for a cookie contest and movie! Throughout the day, behind closed doors, 3 cookie bakers got their bake on in the OXO sponsored Cookoff Kitchen. Dixie Crystals hosted this fun contest, and our three bakers baked enough of their cookies for all of us to sample and vote on before the movie. It was a tough choice – Cheddar Apple Pie Cookies, Salted Caramel Thumbprint Cookies, and Jalapeno Chocolate Cookies all vied for the win – and $500 in prize money! After a tight vote, Chris won with her Caramel Cookies! Congrats!


During the movie (Pitch Perfect!) we were inundating with a Hershey’s Candy Bar – full of chocolates! Reese’s Pieces, Peppermint Patties, Kisses of all kinds, Rolos – you name it, we had it! We also had the most incredible Dole Dippers – chocolate covered frozen bananas and strawberries! Have you had these? They are too good! It was a close run, but more of the bananas were consumed than the strawberries, but both are so delicious…I can’t decide which I like better!


Once Pitch Perfect ended, it was time for some much needed rest – we still had an entre day of Mixed to survive… Stay tuned for that wrap up!

Disclaimer – I totally STOLE photos from Instagram. If one of them is yours, I hope you will take it as a compliment, as I meant it as such. If you need me to take it down, just say so, I will!

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