Dirty secrets of DIY bloggers

Last week, I had the privilege of attending another Atlanta-based Haven Conference for DIY bloggers.

There’s so much I love about this conference: rubbing elbows with famous DIYers and thought leaders; connecting with my favorite brands; gathering information from other bloggers to help me grow my business; and making new friends in the process of it all.


Chatting it up with HGTV star Kelly Edwards


Enjoying an inspiring keynote speech from Jon Acuff


Taking a break with LaZBoy (Yes. They’re wearing upholstery-fabric suits.)


Enjoying a balmy Altanta evening with fellow author (and Pa. gal) Darla DeMorrow

But there’s something way more special to me about Haven than all these amazing opportunities. And it wasn’t until this year’s conference that I actually realized what it was …

It’s the dirty-secret sharing.

Let me explain.

We DIY bloggers work very hard – as in blood, sweat and tears hard – to bring our readers the very best we have to offer.

We try to produce clear, concise and professional-looking tutorials like what you might expect to see on TV or in magazines. And we painstakingly stage our photographs the same way.

We do all this because we know you’re looking for attainable inspiration that you want to replicate in your own homes. Plus we know we’re in competition with a lot of other media for your attention. So we’ve got to bring our “A” game, all the time.

But the reality is that, even as hard as we try, the life of a DIYer is fraught with unpredictable insanity. And that’s why I love Haven so much … because I love other DIY bloggers so much! These folks embrace the crazy with me. 

They refresh me and reassure me that I’m not alone. They empathize with me when I’m in my backyard with gnats stuck to my sweaty face, crying as my vision of a spray-painted work of art turns into a dumpster-bound nightmare.

Not only do we DIY bloggers share similar stories of heartbreaking, tragic project fails, but we also find ourselves in synonymous, somewhat scary (yet later hilarious) situations while picking up Craigslist furniture or chasing down deals.

When these other bloggers share their crazy DIY moments with me, I feel connected to them. (Plus I enjoy the fact that they make me laugh so hard I almost pee my pants.)

So my big take away from Haven this year is that I want you to experience this connection, too. In short, I want you to read a post of mine and feel like you might pee your pants. 😉

Historically, in my rush to get a blog post out with its pretty pictures and meticulous how-to details, I’ve often left out the “good stuff.” I’ve been guilty of omitting the crazy moments that weren’t pretty – or may have even been interpreted as downright insane. Next time, I’m going to include those moments.

Why? Because I think it makes us feel good when we realize we’re not the only crazy people out there. 😉

This post is dedicated to my Haven roommate, Shanna, who’s got the juiciest Craiglist stories I’ve ever been told. 


From left to right, Shanna, Christy, me, Ashlynn (Christy’s daughter), and Debbie

Haven re-cap

Whew! I just got back yesterday from a whirlwind adventure in Atlanta at the Haven Conference. I had a blast learning more about blogging and DIYing. Plus I got to meet some amazing ladies who are weird like me and get all giddy and starry-eyed when they walk into a Lowes or Home Depot.

The conference kicked off last Thursday with a humorous, yet informative presentation from bloggers John and Sherry from Young House Love. In case you don’t already know, they are kind of a big deal.

The first conference session I attended was about growing your blog. I had the privilege of listening to these fabulous ladies talk about how they have expanded their readership over the years.

From left to right are Myra, Sarah, Rhoda, Traci and Beth.

Next, I went to a basic woodworking seminar with the lovely and talented Ana White.

During her session, Ana built a bench while wearing fabulous high heels. She’s a DIY superstar from Alaska who definitely knows her way around a power saw. Girl power!

I also had the opportunity to attend a session hosted by Rashon Carraway, aka Mr. Goodwill Hunting. He taught us how to shop thrift stores like a pro.

Throughout the conference, I was blessed to connect with some very talented and inspirational women.

Here I am with the lovely Rhoda of Southern Hospitality.

I got to catch up with my sweet friend, Traci, from Beneath my Heart.

Spoiler alert! Here I am with Myra of My Blessed Life. We are comparing our baby bellies.

I will be five months preggers next week. Yep, that’s right. Tiny will be getting a baby brother or sister in November. She says if it’s a brother, she will throw him away. Let’s hope she’s joking.

Here I am with Tonya from Love of Family and Home and Myra.

I met so many other great ladies that I hope to stay connected with as well. Conferences like Haven are an excellent opportunity to stretch yourself and get out of your comfort zone. I came to Atlanta by myself. So, at mealtimes, I literally walked up to tables and asked the ladies seated there if I could join them. Fortunately, they were sweet and friendly and didn’t say, “Get lost, weirdo,” or anything like that. It was a humbling experience that really helped me grow personally and professionally.

One more HUGE perk of this conference: I won an iPad from Rust-Oleum (one of the conference sponsors)! Is that stinkin’ crazy or what? I pretty much peed my pants when I found out I won. (That may or may not be an exaggeration.)

After the conference was over, my sisters and a friend drove down to meet me in Atlanta for a four-day girls’ getaway.

From left to right are my sis, Meg, our friend, Nicole, me and my baby sis, Jackie. After spending the night in “Hotlanta,” we headed north to America’s largest home, the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, N.C.

Unfortunately, I wasn’t allowed to take any photos inside the home.

Here’s a side view of the house.

Here we are in the gardens.

I love this view! Biltmore Estate is definitely a must-see if you are into architecture or history.

Now that I’m back home in Pa., I am exhausted yet exhilarated from my trip. It will probably take me a week or so to unpack and dig out of the laundry pile. In the meantime, I want to make good on my promise and share with you what I learned at Haven. Later this week, I will be posting some of the helpful tips Mr. Goodwill Hunting gave us on shopping thrift stores like a pro.

Have you done anything lately that has forced you out of your comfort zone? I would love for you to share.

I’m linking this up to Southern Hospitality.

Headed to Haven

In less than 24 hours, I’ll be boarding a plane bound for the Haven blogger’s conference in Atlanta. I am pumped because this particular conference is geared toward DIY gals like me.

I’ve been exercising my power drill trigger finger and I’m ready to learn all I can about tools, basic carpentry, painting, decorating and how to make my blog great.

I’m a bit nervous just like I was before Blissdom. But I am determined to exude confidence and make some new friends. I’m also hoping I’ll get the chance to reconnect with some of the wonderful ladies I met at Blissdom earlier this year.

From left to right: Cyndi, Traci, Myra and me.

On the left is Mandy and on the right is Tonya.

Until about two years ago, I thought I was the only weirdo who liked to rip out walls, re-do floors, re-purpose thrift store finds and basically make her husband nuts with all the constant changes around the house. But, low and behold, I discovered there is a sea of you crazy ladies out there just like me!

Conferences like Haven give us a chance to get together and compare notes. Now, no home is safe from our power tool-wielding, manicured hands (OK, mine aren’t manicured, but I’ve seen some of you ladies build a bench without breaking a polished nail and it is impressive).

My only wish is that I could pack all of my lovely readers into my suitcase and take you along with me because I know so many of you share my heart for DIY decorating and remodeling. I will be sure and share what I’ve learned with you, so you can get your DIY mojo on, too.

After the conference, my sisters and friend will be joining me in Atlanta for a girls’ weekend getaway. Holla!

If you would, please pray that we all have safe travels and a relaxing vacay.

Have you ever gone to a conference by yourself? Got any tips for me?