My first Haven post had a little cliffhanger of an ending, and I’m sure only about .001 percent of you actually read all those words. Warning: I can be wordy. And this post will be no exception.
Ok, so the photography class was PACKED. Thanks so much to Sherry and Katie for saving Dusty (and me) a seat! The photo styling info was my favorite part of the session. I have a pretty good grasp on my camera after many a Click Workshop, so that part wasn’t as mind blowing for me as other folks. But Layla’s styling session? Yeah, I was listening so intently that I forgot to take a single pic! Layla showed us all her secret tips on making a staged interior picture look rockin’. She gave us quite an education on how to use a Pottery Barn catalog like a rocket science manual. I took notes. I listened intently. I drooled over Layla’s house. And even though she claims that she was super nervous, she did really well during her presentation. Afterwards she got swarmed by folks asking questions, and others who got tired of waiting to ask their questions.
That’s my good buddy Skye impatiently waiting her turn.
And then when she knew she was busted…
Those two pictures own me! Ha!
That night was the Rustoleum cocktail party, with free drinks and more swag. Dusty and I got all dressed up and posed like mannequins.
I also got to snap a pic with the beautiful Kitty of MissKopyKat. She has been a longtime online friend, and it was great meeting her (and her husband!) at Haven.
This was also the night when we met a brand new friend! This chick Colleen from The Restarter Home was standing with us in the wine line INSTANTLY hit it off with both Dusty and me, and we asked her to take our picture. She did, then we drifted apart. Then later we all went back for refills at the same time, and hit it off even further. Then I went upstairs to take my swag back to the room and realized I didn’t remember her name or blog or even get her card. I was so bummed because I really, truly liked this chick and hoped I’d see her again. When I went downstairs, Dusty was standing there talking to her again! And I was like SCORE! It was meant to be.
That’s when I knew we were all gonna be really good friends. And so far I was right! How rare is it these days to instantly connect with someone and become fast friends like you’re still in college or something? RARE. I’m so happy to have met Colleen!
I texted our local friend Kent at that point and told her to come have a free drink on Rustoleum so she came a-running. When she got there the party was winding down but she snagged a glass of wine. We were the last ones at the party, along with Colleen, Sherry and Katie. And that’s when things got interesting!
We went out to dinner at that same restaurant that we ate at after Kent’s baby shower- the Paper Mill Grill. It was absolutely perfect and delicious and so much fun getting to know everyone better. Sherry, Katie and Colleen are all freaking hilarious, and I already knew that about Kent and Dusty. We (meaning us, not them) acted crazy and sang David Allen Coe’s “You Don’t Have to Call Me Darlin’, Darlin’” unfortunately loudly right there at the table while Katie video taped us singing WAY loud and WAY offkey. What can I say? It was half price wine night.
I’m not sure but I might be a YouTube sensation already.
And then… on the way home, all was normal and good until we pulled into the hotel entrance. Just as we were pulling in, Get Low came on Katie’s iPod, so she stopped the car, rolled down all the windows, cranked the speakers up and started hitting the flo’ right there in the drivers seat. She was HYSTERICAL, with her little 22 week pregnant belly dancing like a fool. Then she yells at us all to get out, so we hop out and she and D and Kent and Colleen have a full on dance party in the parking lot. I whipped out my video camera in order to have some bargaining leverage against Katie for my David Allen Coe karaoke earlier in the night. After the booty shaking ended we snapped this pic together and sent Sherry and Katie on their way.
PS-I’m totally stealing this photo from Katie’s blog.
After that we migrated to the hotel bar towards a table full of girls where I reconnected with Kari from Thistlewood Farms. I am in love with her! She was AMAZING. Totally should have been voted Miss Congeniality of the conference. She could not stop laughing and smiling and she just cracked me UP. It was good to get to know her. I also met the husband of another blogger, Cindy of Bliss Window Designs, who is the President of a manufacturing company in my same industry. Small world, huh? We talked shop for a long time, so that was cool. Anna of Ask Anna was also there with her bag o’ Snickers, as well as Heather from At The Picket Fence.
We finally got to our room about 2:45am and I didn’t go to bed that night til 4 am because I was uploading pics and blogging and stalking people’s facebook pages for Haven updates.
Mature adult, I am.
I was so hung over sleepy that next morning that I didn’t get to breakfast in time. In fact I didn’t get anywhere in time. I finally made it downstairs around 10 am and couldn’t decide which session to attend. I just bounced around to see what interested me. I stepped into Mr. Goodwill Hunting’s I love Thrifting class just to take a photo and he sucked me in for about 20 minutes. He is a really great speaker. Very funny and personable and charismatic like a preacher. He’d be great with his own tv show. Very much that type of tv host personality.
I bounced around a little more, listening to snippets of the sessions. I ended the morning sessions with Beth from Home Stories of A to Z talking about SEO and Google Juice in the I Like Big Blogs class.
When that ended I went to grab lunch with Dusty and found her sitting at a table with the cousin of the girl our friend Kent knew (small world!) Erin of DIY On The Cheap and another blogger who lives just one town away from me! How crazy is that? We all hit it off well and I talked for a long time to Leann of This Southern Girl who is a teacher in a nearby school district. She was very sweet and full of lots of good info about schools. We have a lunch date planned soon!
The next sessions of the conference for me was Ana White’s Knock Off Wood Carpentry session.
I had to get a picture with her because one day she is going to be a TV star and I’d like to be able to say I met her when. Any girl who can rock out a power tool in purple pumps is bound to be a superstar, right?
It was a fantastic class, and WOW… it was very mind-blowing stuff that Becki was teaching. I was sitting facing sideways at the front of a packed class–standing room only crowd–and as Beckie stood up there talking I saw a lot of deer in headlights looks for a while, but then suddenly I watched as lightbulbs started popping up all over the place. It was very cool to witness her unleash her advertising magic and see everyone inhale it across the crowd. This class was, by far, one of the most informative sessions of the conference for me. Dusty and I both decided we have a little girl crush on Beckie. She has totally got her shtuff together in this blogging thing. She was very admirable.
I also got firm and total verification that Julia from Hooked on Houses is by far THE NICEST BLOGGER EVER CREATED ON THE FACE OF THE EARTH. I hit it off with her immediately during the very first reception and she just kept proving over and over how beautiful she is, inside and out. I’m so happy to have met her!
There was a Q&A session with TONS of door prize giveaways to wrap everything up, and the POOF! Just like that it was over. The organizers posed for a final photo op:
And we posed for a lot, too! Congrats to everyone who one a great door prize. They gave away some SERIOUS swag at this conference. Check out these incredible 360 degree shower head from Moen that my new friend Terri from Crafty Workin Mommy won! We were very excited about them! PS- thanks for the cake pop, Terri! It was delicious!
I snapped a few more pics with some of my new conference buddies! Here is the awesome Francine of SkyBluePinkCreations. Loved this girl!
And also Superblogger Kelly from View Along The Way! Sweet, sweet, sweet this chick is! I was very disappointed she wasn’t wearing her Superwoman cape at the conference!
In the middle here is the incredible Miriam from Hometalk, which is BY FAR my most favorite home decorating website out there right now. Miriam has reached out to the home blogging community and the site has grown by leaps and bounds over the past year. She’s making waves, that girl! On the far left is Janet of the Empty Nest, who was arguably the most popular vendor from the whole weekend. She was the lady behind the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint Wheel of Fortune. Lots of whooping and hollering going on in her booth all weekend. What a fun lady she is!
Later that night we wound up back at the hotel bar (SURPRISE!) with Kari of Thistlewood Farm and the other girls where there was a whole lotta Instagramming going on. Here is Roeshel from The DIY Showoff and Vanessa from At The Picket Fence (sister to Heather!)
We took approximately forty-leven blurry photos with Kari because we loved her so. Here is the best one of the bunch.
Then we all got to witness Kari do something she’s never done before- buy a round of drinks! She did it so well, too. Thanks for the drink, babe!
I’ll wrap this loooooonnnnngggg post up with this picture right here.
This picture pretty much sums up how this conference was for me.
A whole lot of fun.
A whole lotta crazy.
A whole lotta love.
A special shout out to Andrea of Our Blue Front Door for whipping out some exceptional navigational skills when I got a little lost driving them to the airport on Saturday. I really enjoyed our ride-to-the-airport chat, Andrea! It was great meeting you!
So, Haven 2013? Who else will be there with me?