Cheers to Bloghouse Chicago 2014 - Photo Courtesy of Lisa Lubin

Taking it to the Next Level at Bloghouse Chicago

In Food Tripping, Midwest by Daryl & Mindi Hirsch7 Comments

“Do you shoot your photos with a DSLR?”

The seemingly simple question posed by Navigate Media Group‘s Lisa Lubin shot like an arrow through Daryl’s heart. Photos are an element that 2foodtrippers have pointed to with pride, as food porn is a hallmark of our culinary travel content. We’ve been photographing food since our honeymoon seven years ago. Food photography is not something that we approach lightly.

“No. We use a good point and shoot camera, a Canon S100. It’s light and allows us to be discrete during our dining experiences. You don’t like our pictures? I think our pictures are really good!” Daryl exclaimed.

“A DSLR would make your pictures better,” Lisa explained, while informing Daryl that she was excited to be working with the food-imbibing travel duo during the valuable one-on-one sessions that make the Bloghouse experience so special.

Daryl then charged off to the hot tub at the beautiful Villa D’Citta Bed & Breakfast, introspective yet intrigued by the learning experiences that the blogging retreat would offer. Meanwhile, Mindi was downstairs mingling and enjoying some Goose Island beer.

What Is Bloghouse?

Bloghouse is a three-day retreat / workshop run by the Navigate Media Group and their crack team of blogging professionals. During the intense yet fun three days, Bloghouse focuses on important blogging issues like writing, photography, video, social networking and search engine optimization (SEO).

For us, attending Bloghouse provided an opportunity to dig deep into our blog, both technically and conceptually, in a way that took us and 2foodtrippers to a new blogging level.

Bloghouse Chicago

Chicago is not the first Bloghouse city, but it is the first one in the USA. We jumped at the chance to attend when we were accepted since we were attracted to the intimate setting that is so different from the big blogging conferences. (Plus, we’ve been looking for an excuse to re-visit the windy city.)

From the accommodations to the training to the food to the evening entertainment, everything was thought out and well executed by the Navigate Media Group team:


The setting of Villa D’Citta, a FlipKey property in the heart of Chicago’s Lincoln Park neighborhood, exceeded our wildest expectations. We were mentally prepared to share a room with other bloggers. Instead, we were assigned our own suite which was decked out with a fireplace, a flat screen TV and a very comfortable bed.

Villa D'Citta - Views from our Bed and from our Deck

Villa D’Citta – Views from our Bed and from our Deck


We learned so much during the classes, and we have the notes to prove it. Armed with information shared by the Navigate Media team, we now have a long list of to-do’s as well as an invigorated view of where 2foodtrippers can go.

Bloghouse Chicago Class

Bloghouse Chicago Class

However, it was the interactive sessions where we learned the most. Lisa audited our site, honing into the importance of photography and video. Mike helped to optimize our site, which would have been so much more difficult without his guidance. Ayngelina prompted us to re-evaluate our particular take on culinary tourism. Sherry taught us valuable fundamentals of photography, which included the rule of thirds and depth of field.

Photography Lessons: Rule of Thirds and Depth of Field

Photography Lessons: Rule of Thirds and Depth of Field

Thanks to Lisa and Sherry, we are now in the market for a DSLR camera.


We went to Bloghouse Chicago for the learning opportunity, not for the food. As it turns out, we’re not the only bloggers who like to eat. We never went hungry with the Italian-inspired B&B’s stocked kitchen and delicious meals, not to mention the catered tapas lunch and a refreshing Jeni’s ice cream break.

Bloghouse Chicago Food at Villa D'Citta in Chicago - Needless to Say, Nobody Went Hungry

Bloghouse Chicago Food at Villa D’Citta – Needless to Say, Nobody Went Hungry

With an endless supply of Goose Island beers, a wine tap built into the wall and the constant flow of Intelligentsia coffee, we had no excuse to be thirsty.

Bloghouse Chicago Hydration

Bloghouse Chicago Hydration

Evening Entertainment

A full day of blogging education can be tiring. The hot tub would have been enough, but the planners didn’t stop there. We spent the evenings out and about in Chicago for a schmoozy industry night at Vertigo Sky Lounge, an electric boat ride on the Chicago River at dusk and a boozy Mexican feast at Mercadito.

Industry Night at Vertigo Sky Lounge in Chicago

Industry Night at Vertigo Sky Lounge

Scenes from the Electric Boat in Chicago

Scenes from the Electric Boat

Mercadito Dinner in Chicago

Mercadito Dinner

The Best Part of Bloghouse Chicago

The learning was great, as were the food, drinks and the evening activities, and it was totally awesome when Daryl won a Briggs & Riley international carry-on spinner. But the absolute best part of Bloghouse Chicago was the people. We already mentioned the professionals, but there were also twelve other participants – fellow travel bloggers with whom we shared the unique experience.

Although we live in different cities and countries, we are just a few mouse clicks away. We’re having fun reading their travel blogs, and we recommend that you do the same.

Writing a blog can feel lonely at times, even when there are two behind the wheel. Thanks to Bloghouse Chicago, we are now part of a special, select community. For that, we are grateful.

Cheers to Bloghouse Chicago 2014 - Photo Courtesy of Lisa Lubin

Cheers to Bloghouse Chicago 2014 – Photo Courtesy of Lisa Lubin

We thank the Navigate Media Group team for sharing their knowledge with us. We also thank FlipKey, GoGo, Goose Island and MegaBus for their generous sponsorship of Bloghouse Chicago.

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    1. Author

      We enjoyed chatting with you as well. Hopefully we can eat more yummy treats with you in New York or Philly.

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