Haven 2012 recap + 10 things I learned about blogging

So if you didn’t know I attended a blogging conference last week here in Atlanta. (Sorry if I bombarded you on facebook and twitter, it was just so exciting for me.  Hope some of you found it interesting as well.)

Honestly I have had a hard time putting into words my experience there – it was sooo AWESOME in every way!  First of all, this wasn’t just any blogging conference – it was a conference specifically devoted to home bloggers and all of us that love crafts, DIY projects, decorating our home, spray paint, and more!  And not only would I be surrounded by girls (and some guys) who loved spray paint as much as me, but they would be some of my favorite bloggers!!  The ladies that organized this conference along with some other bloggers are some of the people that inspired me to start blogging, people who I read their blogs every day and never miss a post, and who completely inspire me to create and write!  So it was a dream come true to meet them in person!  (There might have even been some squealing involved such as when we pulled into the parking lot on Wednesday night and saw John from Young House Love unloading Burger out of his car!)

So let me try to put into words what happened over the course of those few days.

First of all, I was so glad that Renee from Living, Laughing, and Loving came down to go to the conference with me.

Renee and me

She and I knew each other in-real-life from a church I went to during my college days (which was pre-blog life.)  In recent years we have enjoyed reconnecting through our blogs and enjoy sharing tips back and forth to help grow and make our blogs better.  She stayed at my house and we commuted into Atlanta every day for the conference.

A welcome party on Wednesday night sponsored by Oreck and Frog Tape kicked things off.  I was so glad to have this time to mingle and meet people.  I had been nervous in the days leading up to it, but having Renee to chat with on the way and then seeing John in the parking lot and getting to start meet other bloggers just made me excited and helped calm my nerves!  So then I was just able to have fun! :)

It helped too that in the first few minutes, this lovely lady came up and introduced herself.  She was a reader stalker of my blog and wanted to meet ME!  Here I was excited to meet all the bloggers I look up to and she was excited to meet me! Winking smile So hey, Vicki!!  So glad to meet you!  Waiting for you comment on this post… Winking smile  (By the way, I love meeting my readers so if you ever see me out shopping at Goodwill or whatever, please stop and say hi!)


I also got to meet John and Sherry (and Clara!) of Young House Love that night too! Smile  I absolutely adore their blog and them!  In fact, the day that it was announced that they would be the keynote speakers of the conference was the day I bought my ticket!  They were just as adorable in person as they are on their blog.

YHL and me

They even had Burger with him! And yes, I got to pet him – so cute! Smile


Then after sitting in glorious Atlanta traffic (aka sea of brake lights), we were back early the next morning just in time for the start of the conference.

Here’s the Haven team – love these girls and their blogs!

L-R  Chris from Just a Girl, Kate from Centsational Girl who is sort of behind Rhoda from Southern Hospitality, Sarah from Thrifty Décor Chick, Kristi from Creative Kristi, Marian from Miss Mustard Seed, Beth from Home Stories A to Z, and Traci from Beneath from my Heart.


John and Sherry were the opening keynote speakers and they were amazing!! Smile  I already knew they were funny from their blog, but they were inspiring, funny, and filled with so much blogging wisdom!  They both quit their jobs to blog full time (how is that for inspiring?) and spoke on “Young House Love’s 11 biggest decisions that steered our blog to where it is today.”


Sherry is so fun!  You never know what she is going to say! 🙂


There were 3 different session times each day with 5-6 different topics during those times.  The exact same sessions were repeated again the second day so that you could choose another topic to go to – LOVED that!  I wish I could have gone to all of them but at least I got to go 2 out of each block of time.

First session I went to was on “I like big blogs” all about growing your blog.  Who better to share that then a panel of some of the Haven girls?   Learned some good stuff about SEO and social media that I am trying to implement into my blog now.


The next session I went to was called “Décor 101.”  Beth from Home Stories A to Z and Chris from Just a Girl did this session.


They showed how to incorporate textures into your home and how to create a good vignette.  I will be sharing some tips from this class as I incorporate them into my home.   I came home and checked some vignettes I created in my bathroom and they looked pretty good!  So look for that soon! Smile


The last class I went to that day was “Photography 101” with Kevin and Layla from The Lettered Cottage, and Josh from Kevin and Josh’s business, Shoot Fly Shoot.  This class was amazing!  I have just barely started using the manual settings on my camera and I so desperately want to learn how to use my camera better!  Kevin and Josh were GREAT at explaining manual in easy to understand terms! Smile  I loved a statement they made – “You are smarter than your camera!”  Ha!  I don’t really feel like that right now, but I am starting to slowly conquer it!


Layla did the second half of the session and talked about styling your home for photos.  Kevin is a professional photographer who has done work for HGTV and magazines such as Flea Market Style and Cottages & Bungalows.  And Layla styles a lot of the rooms and shots that he takes.  So they KNOW their stuff! Smile  Can’t wait to try some of it my home!  Here’s me and sweet Layla!

Layla and me

The next day I started off my sessions with a fun session – “I love thrifting” with Mr. Goodwill Hunting.  He had some great tips such as “Don’t look for anything at any time, but look for everything at all times.”  Meaning if you are just dead set to find a desk and head to Goodwill that day to find it, you probably won’t find it.  So your method in thrift shopping is to be always looking for things you want, need, or can use.  Had to laugh at this other statement he said, “Don’t buy stuff to just buy stuff – that is how you get on Hoarders!”  So true! Smile  (So no one come check my spare bedroom/craft room, ok?  I don’t want to be on hoarders!)


Here’s a picture of me and Rashon (Mr. Goodwill Hunting).  He is the one who came up with the idea for the “I love thrifting” day that I will be hosting in my area in a few weeks.

GWHunting and me

The last two sessions I went to were “Design Studio” (incorporating fabric into your home).


And a session all about advertising on your blog.  That session was incredible!  Beckie from Infarrantly Creative completely blew my mind with ideas!  Still processing what I learned and trying to figure out how to incorporate it!

Haven was incredible because of these three main reasons:

  • Incredible sessions who inspired and encouraged me to be a better decorator, photographer, and blogger
  • Getting to meet the famous bloggers I look up to and admire!
  • Making new friends!  And even becoming friends with some of the famous bloggers that I love to read!  (And getting spend time with Renee in person after blog brainstorming online for the past few years.)

Here’s some of the new friends I met:

Renee and I with Tonya from Love of Family & Home.  I had been following her blog for a while already but I am so glad I got meet her in person!  She is so sweet and we had fun hanging out!

renee, me, and Tonya

Aghhhh!!  Me and Sarah from Thrifty Décor Chick!!! Smile  Sarah’s blog was the very FIRST Home/DIY/Frugal Décor blog I started reading.

Sarah and me

Renee actually introduced me to her blog back in December of 2009 and I was immediately hooked!  I think I read through her entire blog in the weeks over Christmas that year and was absolutely amazed!  From her blog I found other home blogs linked up at her linky parties and from different projects she would feature and honestly, my life (and home) completely changed!  Love this girl and her blog!

And Traci, from Beneath my Heart

Traci and me

She spent an entire lunch eating and chatting with me, Renee, and Tonya and let me tell you,she is a gem!  I sooo enjoyed getting to know her better and take a peek into her life and the heart behind her blog and her family.    I was so impressed with all of the “big bloggers” and how they took time to greet us by name like they knew US! And then took time to spend time with us and answer questions!  I fell in love with them and their blogs even more after seeing how willing they were to give of themselves to us and didn’t treat us like we were the little bitty bloggers that we are!

And Rhoda!  I had fun shopping with her last year at her I love Thrifting Day.  I am so glad we are both Atlanta bloggers!

renee, me, and Rhoda

Also got meet Amanda from Serenity Now.  Love linking to her Weekend Wrap-up party each week and she is very sweet.

Amanda and me

And Kate from Centsational Girl!  Have stalked her blog, adored her photography, and loved her projects for a while now.

Kate and me

We closed the day with a closing session/Q&A time and I was so sad to leave.  The awesome Haven team did a tremendous job at pulling off this first conference – my only disappointment was I would love to stay at the hotel to have more time with everyone next year!!  Cause, yes, Rhoda we want one next year!! Smile


I came home so refreshed, excited, inspired…. and overwhelmed!  Sooo many things I could work on and do to make my home better and to make my blog better.  I stay focused much better if I make a list of things I want to work on so here is my list…

10 things I learned from Haven (that I want to incorporate into my blog and home)

  1. Work on adding more textures/fabrics into my home.  I have already purchased some fabric to make pillows so need to get that done.
  2. Work on making my vignettes/mantel arrangements better with the tips Beth gave!
  3. Style my home better for pictures and for us to enjoy too!
  4. Take the Shoot Fly Shoot photo course and don’t be afraid of the “M” on my camera anymore!
  5. Work on content.  Don’t get all caught up in all the business of blogging that I lose my creativity in doing projects and just enjoying blogging!
  6. Work on learning more about and improving the SEO on my blog
  7. Find some new advertising companies.
  8. Work on social media – facebook, twitter, and yes, maybe even Google +??
  9. Continue to develop relationship with my readers and other bloggers!    Comment more…
  10. Always focus on working sure I have BALANCE…  This is not something I can learn and check off the list.  Everyone at the conference will tell you it is a constant battle.  Balance between work/blog and home/family.  The internet (and for that matter spray paint) is available 24/7 and it is easy to get sucked into spending too much time online and neglecting people around you.    Starting with some tips from this post from Beth.

Oh and check out all these goodies I came home with!  A Kreg Jig Jr., Ryobi Lithium flashlight (for when I am finishing spray painting in the dark – lol!), Fish Foam window cleaner, a Purdy paint brush – woohoo!, a sample of Annie Sloan chalk paint, a spray paint comfort grip from Rustoleum, Frog tape, and so much more!  Thanks to the great sponsors of Haven!


So thankful for the opportunity to go to this conference and I can’t for next year!    Maybe I will see some of you there next year!


P.S. I will announce the Mod Podge & Michael’s gift card winners tomorrow and have a new project to share with you!


  1. Great recap! My mind is still spinning from all the stuff I learned and want to go do. I wish I could do it all at once, right this second! 🙂
    Kelly @ View Along the Way recently posted..Haven Recap!My Profile

    • Christina says:

      oh, I know! I came home to a week with NO time to work on blogging stuff so now I feel overwhelmed. But trying to take it one little step at a time. 🙂 It was fun meeting you, Kelly!

  2. Ahhh! I am completely jealous that you got to meet John and Sherry (and Clara and Burger!). Sounds like it was an amazing conference. Thanks for the super recap!
    Holly recently posted..family.My Profile

    • Christina says:

      haha! I couldn’t wait to meet them! Hope I didn’t act “stalkerish” – haha! But yes, they were quite the celebrity there! 🙂

  3. Wow… So kool! So neat you got to meat Sarah from TDC. Her blog and yours were the 1st ones i started to follow too. So you are a celebrity, see? 🙂

    • Christina says:

      ha! not really! But yes, it was so awesome that I got meet her. And she even said she RECOGNIZED ME! (Ok, she just recognized the HAIR from my profile picture on twitter but still – haha! I was dumbfounded!) Her and the rest of the “big” bloggers that I met were SOOO nice and down to earth in person – was super impressed!

  4. Hey, Christina! So glad you had such a good time. I wish I had had more time to sit with all of you at lunch & dinner. I wanted to be in on all the fun too! Had way too much going on, but it sure was a blast. We do hope to do it again next year in a bigger venue. We are so happy Haven was a hit & it totally exceeded our expectations too. When I get in my house, I want do do more ATL blogger meet-ups, so I’m hoping to get that off the ground later this year.

    • Christina says:

      It was wonderful – better than I imagined and I had looked forward toward it for almost 6 months after I bought my ticket! 🙂 You and your team did such a great job! And all the Haven team were SOOO good about talking to all of us and really taking time to spend time getting to know us – super impressive and made a huge impact on me!

      Glad we live close – we will be seeing each other soon, I am sure!

  5. Hi Christina. Love your recap!! I sat by you at the photography class. We were talking about external flashes and I told you I would tell you what diffuser I use. I shoved it in my bag and tried to find you afterwards, but I didn’t find you. Anyway, I looked and it doesn’t have a name on it and I’ve been trying for the last 15 minutes to find it on Google with no success. I know it’s a “soft box” diffuser. It folds up flat and fits in my camera bag. I can send you a photo of it if you would like.

    • Christina says:

      Hey, Candice! Thanks so much for checking on that for me. You know, after I got home I have been shooting 100% in manual and I am not having the issues with low light that I was before. 🙂 I still have TONS to learn but just adjusting the ISO and shutter speed has made a huge difference.

      Thanks for answering my questions during the class too – you were too sweet!

  6. ABSOLUTELY! I love your 10 tips. They are right on. You apparently did a much better job at taking pictures than I did. I think I took some on Wednesday night and some on Friday and that’s about it. Blogger fail!

    Can’t wait to read more of your blog! Adding you to Bloglovin so I dont miss any posts!
    Maury @ Life on Mars recently posted..Master Bathroom UpdatesMy Profile

    • Christina says:

      ha! I constantly had to keep reminding myself to take pictures. I would have cried if I met all my blogger idols and came home with NO pictures of them – LOL!

      Had fun meeting you, Maury!

  7. Great recap! I saw you but didn’t get to meet you, maybe next time! I like your idea of what you learned and how you plan to implement!

    • Christina says:

      awww – sorry I didn’t get to meet you either 🙁 There were so many people and so much to do – glad you enjoyed it too!

  8. In the spirit of commenting more, I’m commenting here! I was so sad to miss Haven, but I have a tiny baby (#3) that is still nursing and there was no way on earth I was flying across the country with her in tow:) Love living vicariously through all of you and I’m so happy I found your blog!


    • Christina says:

      awww – I can understand. Thanks for reading along of my adventure. hopefully next year you can make it and we can MEET at Haven!

      Oh, and welcome to my blog!

  9. Hey Christina!! I am more hooked on DIY than EVER since returning from Haven! Getting to meet you and some of the bloggers I “stalk” was so exciting! Ya’ll are like celebrities to me! My brain is swimming with all sorts of ideas. Ellen and I went to the Goodwill in Atlanta before we left and we got some amazing finds. Can’t wait to show you what I come up with. Thank you SO much for being so kind and including me in your blog. You are sweeter in person than I had already imagined you to be.

    • Christina says:

      It was SOOO fun to meet you! You seriously made me night coming up and introducing yourself as one of MY readers! 🙂 You made me much more at ease that night to meet the bloggers that I was nervous to meet. Can’t wait to see what you found – you will have to email me a picture. (And when are YOU going to start a blog?? 😉

  10. Wonderful tips, and I’m so glad you had a great time. Now, I’m going to go drool over that pile of swag again!

    • Christina says:

      haha! It was pretty awesome and I didn’t even come home with any of the big giveaways either 🙁

  11. It sounds like so much fun. Thanks for telling us about it.

  12. Fantastic review of Haven! I’m so glad I got a chance to meet you in person Christina!

  13. Ahh so jealous! Especially of the goody bag. You will love the spray paint handle.
    lisa recently posted..Lazy Blogger/Busy BloggerMy Profile

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