After reading all of the rave reviews about last year’s Haven conference for bloggers, I decided to attend this year. I purchased my ticket as soon as they went on sale and made plans to attend. And boy, am I glad that I did. It was excellent.
Rhoda from Southern Hospitality and her entire team did an excellent job planning the conference. I was able to speak with Rhoda very briefly and thank her for all of her efforts. I so appreciate her and her authenticity.
The hotel was outstanding! The conference was held at the Grand Hyatt Buckhead in Atlanta. The facilities were fantastic. Since most of my friends don’t even know what a blog is, I attended by myself but thoroughly enjoyed myself. Not only was the hotel great, but the food was outstanding!! The lunches each day were healthy and simply delicious. I failed to take a picture of my lunch but managed to get a shot of dessert on both days!
These little strawberry shortcakes were wonderful!
This miniature peach cobble was also outstanding.
The opening and closing sessions were excellent. Both speakers were very inspiring. All of the breakout sessions that I attended were packed with information.
Ballard Designs sponsored a bookcase styling contest on both days. Ballard provided all of the props and teams of 4 or 5 had a few minutes to choose their goods and style the bookcase. Of course, all of them looked like winners to me.
The winners who were chosen by vote were awarded a gift card to Ballards! (I wish that there had been other “skilled” based contests.I would have loved the opportunity to “earn” a Ryobi tool!) Speaking of winners, we were all winners in the swag department. The swag bags were also wonderful!
Each attendee received a burlap bag full of goodies then received more treats from sponsors! The box in the photo above contained 2 samples of fabric from Online Fabric Store. I can’t wait to use my fabric. Also, they had other samples at their booth and they looked really great. It is a great source for reasonably priced decorator fabric to keep in mind.
One of my other favorite booths was the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint booth.
I loved the finish on that table painted with ASCP. All of the booths were great. I have some other swag treats that I will be using and sharing later!
There were approximately 300 bloggers in attendance, mostly women. One thing that I quickly discovered was that people look really different in person than a headshot of their profile picture! (Maybe we should all update our profile pics!) Maybe it’s just me and my old age, but several times I didn’t recognize people whose blogs I read regularly. I did happen to notice the nametag of Sherry Hart of Design Indulgence who does not even have a profile photo I might add! I always enjoy her witty posts but had no idea that she was so “shabeautiful!” I would have introduced myself but she appeared to be in a serious conversation when I passed her. While riding in the elevator one day I did spy a “celebrity” of sorts. I commented to a young man that I recognized him as Emily's Clark's husband. He answered “Yes, that’s who I’m known as now, Emily Clark’s husband.” He suggested that we take a picture.(Please pardon the poor lighting in the elevator.)
While waiting in line in the restroom just before leaving, I was asked to snap the picture below. I didn’t realize until I saw it on their blog that these girls are on my sidebar too! It was Amy and Christy from 11 Magnolia Lane.
I could go on and on, but you get the picture.
As I stated earlier, all of the sessions that I attended were packed with information. I had a very hard time choosing which sessions to go to because I wanted to go to all of them!! The bad thing was that I had to choose a few and miss a lot! I wish that the sessions had been repeated more so that I could have gone to more of them. One of my observations, not that it was bad, was that the “hands on” sessions provided more interaction with other bloggers and presenters than the “lecture style” sessions.
The Ugly….Really Ugly
After the last session on Friday evening, I decided to make a quick run to Ikea. After driving about a mile from the hotel a warning light came on in my car. To make a really long story short, my car was overheating and I limped to a service center. I was told that it was the thermostat that could be repaired Saturday morning and I could drive home Saturday evening. Unfortunately when the repair service was bringing my car back to me after lunch on Saturday, they called me again to tell me that the car was still overheating. They had recommended $800 in repairs but my mechanic at home advised me to have them just put the thermostat on. He said that their other suggested repairs were not necessary for me to drive home. Sooooo, my car had to be towed home about 200 miles! (Cha-ching!!) My husband made arrangements to get the car towed home and said that he would come pick me up. But wait, it gets better…. While making phone calls trying to work out the details during a short break after lunch, Jane from Cottage at the Crossroads came and sat with me in the hotel lobby. I explained my dilemma to Jane who said that she had met someone from my hometown!! Jane didn’t have a phone number but she remembered the blog name so we quickly got on our phones and looked it up. I then sent an email asking for the blogger to text me. I went on to my last breakout session and told my husband that I would be back in touch. Just before the closing session I called my husband and told him that I had not gotten a reply and to head that way. No sooner had I hung up the phone than my phone buzzed with a text. It was Tricia from Simplicity in the South! I explained my dilemma again. Tricia said that she was in a carpool with 2 other bloggers and that they could give me a ride home! Just in the nick of time since my husband was at the gas station filling up when I called back to tell him. (My daughter suggests that I learn some polka music like the mom in the Home Alone movie since this is the second time I have made the almost 3 hour trek from Atlanta with a car full of strangers!) Well, we are not strangers any more. You can learn a lot about people when you spend 3 hours in a car with them and I have sworn these girl to secrecy! Christy from Our Southern Home was our driver and Sonya from At Home With the Barkers was also in the car. All 3 of the girls were so sweet and concerned for me, and, they have wonderful blogs too! I am so blessed to have crossed their paths and am so thankful that they came to my rescue. Please visit their blogs and thank them for me. As for my car, it was the water pump which was not on the list of repairs for $800 so it still would not have been drivable if I had allowed the garage in Atlanta to make the repairs and my mechanic says that sometimes a brand new water pump will also malfunction and have to be replaced so I wanted that work to be done locally in case I have to deal with it again. Unfortunately, this mishap with my car caused me to be somewhat distracted on Saturday but it all worked out in the end and I am looking forward to applying some of my newly discovered knowledge in several areas.