Hi y’all. I started writing this post from our hotel room in Atlanta, Georgia last Thursday night. I was hoping to do a quick recap of day 1 that evening, so it was fresh in my mind. However, put 250+ bloggers in the same hotel and the internet gets bogged down beyond belief! So, I’ve decided I’ll do my recap of the conference (in 2 parts because I have tons of pictures to share and fun facts and info I learned) and then Mr. Woodsy is going to do a male’s perspective recap of the conference.
Sew Woodsy t-shirt was printed at Fibers.com
For those of you who are active on Twitter–I hope you were able to follow us last week; we did some live tweeting from the conference. Well, myself more so than Mr. Woodsy! Yes, that’s right–he now has his own twitter account @MrSewWoodsy. So, if your on twitter go follow him and show him love–he is still learning and is sending out a whopping 2 tweets a day, but hey, it’s a start!
We spent all day Wednesday driving from Orlando to Atlanta. I drove during the first half of the race as I like to call it. I secretly dream that we are one day going to be on the Amazing Race. Although, Mr. Woodsy wants nothing to do of it and thinks we would be sent home at the first challenge.
We stopped in Valdosta for lunch, and thanks to twitter ate at an amazing restaurant called 306 north. Gourmet food for a fraction of the price. The price that all amazing food should cost. I’m talking $8 for grilled shrimp, creamy grits, and heaping serving of steamed asparagus. Mr. Woodsy had buttermilk fried pork chops that were out of this world.
Then it was time to get back on the road. We made it a whopping 30 minutes before Mr. Woodsy had to stop for coffee. He was going into a slow and painful food coma. After no sight of a Dunkin Donuts (our preferred cup-of-joe), we stopped at McDonalds. We are anti McDonalds except when it comes to coffee. In a pinch Mc d’s will do. They actually brew a decent cup of coffee!
3.5 hours later and we finally made it into Atlanta; although, not sure if we were fully prepared. When people say the roads are crazy and confusing–please trust them. Holy hell were we pulling our hair out. Thankfully, we made it to our hotel without getting a ticket for illegally changing in and out of the HOV lanes. Which is a premium luxury for us, because Orlando has yet to receive HOV lanes.
We checked into the Crowne Plaza and began walking to the elevators. A massive amount of ladies (and a few sparse gents) were in the bar area chatting. At that point Mr. Woodsy & I were instantly intimdated and Mr. Woodsy started to get cold feet! Yeah, tough, woodworking, man gets cold feet? What??!?!? We went up to our room, unpacked, and were gonna go down stairs to check in and grab our swag bags, but I opted to take a shower and freshen up and Mr. Woodsy took a nice 45 minute nap. We got ready and headed to the opening party sponsored by Oreck and Frog Tape.
We made our way down to the check-in tables and picked up our swag bags. Mr. Woodsy ran the bags up while I waited down stairs and chatted with Linda from Home is Where My Heart is. Pictured above is what we received in our amazing swag bag. All of the sponsors gave us amazing products to take home and try!
Although we were a bit intimidated at the opening party–I was able to break the ice and start introducing us to fellow bloggers. One of the first sets of bloggers I noticed was Gail from My Repurposed Life and Roeshel from DIY Show Off (pictured bottom right corner). It was so nice to meet them in real life and get to know more about them (more than just the blog they author).
While we were talking with Gail and Roeshel Sandra from Sawdust and Paperscraps (pictured bottom left corner) spotted us from across the room. It was such a nice pleasure to meet in person and get to know Sandra in real life! Sandra’s blog was the first woodworking blog Mr. Woodsy started reading a few years back, so he was extremely happy to finally meet her and “talk shop”. Sandra then introduced us to another husband and wife DIY team; Matt & Jacque from The DIY Village (pictured top right corner)! I know both Mr. Woodsy and Matt were excited to meet one another and yet relieved to know that they were not the only males at the conference! We ended up chatting with so many other bloggers not pictured that evening. The cocktail party was suppose to be over at 8pm and we stayed until almost 9:30 chatting with everyone as the hotel staff cleaned the room! Mr. Woodsy and I finally made it to dinner round 10pm that night.
7am came fast and furious the next morning. John and Sherry from Young House Love opened up the conference sharing their 11 mostly-subconscious “decisions” that has made their blog successful along with their story on how they both went from working full time to an advertising agency to now being full time bloggers. I’m so glad that Mr. Woodsy got to hear them speak. In so many ways he was able to relate to them and the constant struggles they face managing a blog. The time and attention and the five million projects you work on and jump around on at any given time. We both really enjoyed listening to them. Sadly, we never got to meet them in person. Although, Mr. Woodsy did sit next to Sherry at Ana White’s woodworking session!
Here is a picture that we took of ourselves at the opening session waiting for John and Sherry to speak!
The Haven Conference schedule was jam packed. Allowing us to attend 6 sessions in total. Since their was two of us attending we decided to divide and conquer. The only session we attended together was Ana White’s beginning wood working session.
The first session I attended was Power Tools with Ryobi. I figured this would be a beginner class. Beginner was correct. I was hoping to get some hands on one-on-one time with power tools. I’ve learned how to use the orbital sander and the chop saw, and want to branch out. So, now I can say that I officially know how to sue the drill. The first half of the session the representatives from Ryobi spoke about all the tools Ryobi makes (did you know they make over 50?!?!?), and the second part of the session we made wine racks! I teamed up with Kristin from The Hunted Interior. Little did I realize I was working with a furniture building DIY pro! Kristin showed me how to drill and we worked on building the wine rack together. I have no problem admitting that it isn’t the prettiest most straight and accurate wine rack out there–but I built it and I think its pretty damn good for my first time! I also didn’t have a tape measure, clamps, etc… so I know the next time I can build better!
After the session I met up with Mr. Woodsy and he was shocked that I built something–then proceeded to critique my wine rack… go figure. We ran up to the room to drop off my wine rack and then ate lunch and walked around visiting all the various vendor booths.
After lunch and mingling with fellow bloggers and vendors it was time to attend another session. Mr. Woodsy went to Ana White’s woodworking session while I attended the Design Studio session. Pictured above is Darlene from Fieldstone Hill Designs teaching us how to design our own style. Sharing different tips and tricks she uses when working on a room! Half way through the session I kept receiving text messages from Mr. Woodsy–he wanted me at the Ana White session because he knew I would really enjoy it–so I snuck out and spent the rest of my time at Ana’s session.
Pictured in the bottom right corner is my new friend in real life, Ann Marie from White House, Black Shutters she got to go help Ana build!
Ana has inspired me. She has shown me that if you put your mind to it –you can make it happen. I’m ready to build. Maybe a little drilling 101 and Ana’s session has really lit the fire underneath me to start building. I’m ready–look out. Even if I’m building boxes… it’s more than most people can say they build! After the session I went up to chat with Ana and take a photo. As soon as I walked up to her Ana says “I know your blog!” I looked behind me because I seriously did not think that Ana White even knew that we existed. lol… It totally made my year times 10.
The last session I took of the day was Basic Photography/Photo Styling with Kevin and Layla from The Lettered Cottage and Josh from Shoot Fly Shoot. I wasn’t sure if I really wanted to take this session since I’ve been working on my food photography for a while now, but since food and home styling are so different I figured I would give it a go. O-M-G I’m so glad I did. This session got me excited to work on my photography once again. Learning new tips and tricks and most importantly figuring out that what I thought I wanted has now very much turned into a need! This session was packed–people were standing all over the room. I’m so very grateful for getting a seat and having the opportunity to listen to Kevin, Layla, and Josh talk about home/DIY photography!
Mr. Woodsy got out of his session a little early and made his way over to the vendor booths. I found him over at the Minwax booth talking with Bruce about stains! We took advantage of the vendor hall being quiet and blogger-less and walked around the main vendor hall while everyone was getting ready for the Rust-Oleum cocktail party. We were both exhausted and wanted some peace and quiet alone to celebrate our 4th wedding anniversary. We stayed at the cocktail party for a little bit and then headed up to the room to get changed.
We ended up eating at Ray’s on the River which was thankfully only a 5 minute drive from our hotel. It was upscale and exactly what we were looking for an ideal anniversary dinner! All we talked about at dinner was life plans, ideas, aspirations. In my opinion, perfect way to spend an anniversary.
Stay tuned for part 2 and a very fun Haven giveaway!!!
Disclaimer: I was lazy and overwhelmed and although I lugged my DSLR all over the conference I took very few pictures with it. Therefore 95% were take from my iPhone 4s and the really bad photos were placed into instagram to make them look a smidge better!